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Wrap-Up: August 2018

 

 

  • Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (★★★★★)
  • The Pawn by Skye Warren (★★★☆☆)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (★★★☆☆)
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells (★★★☆☆)
  • Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (★★★★★)
  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (★★★★☆)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (★★★★☆)
  • A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (★★★☆☆)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte(★★★☆☆)
  • Not That Bad by Roxane Gay (★★★★★)
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (RTC)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 11
YEARLY SO FAR: 70

This has been a surprisingly productive month. I read way more books than I expected to, and a lot of them were books that were in my backlog, meaning I have been wanting to read them for a long, long time. I finally finished Jane Eyre (a book I started in March!), and I read three other classics to make up for that lost time. I got a couple of YA books in as well, one a new release (Bright We Burn), and the other an older release that has been on my list since it came out (An Enchantment of Ravens). I also got in literary, thriller, nonfiction, and even dipped my toes into the erotica/dark romance genre. And I read nearly everything that I had on my TBR post!

I haven’t actually finished Spinning Silver yet, but I’m 80% of the way through, so I’m sure I’ll be done by the end of my 90 minute commute, lol. I’ll try to get the review out before tomorrow, since I’ll be super busy preparing to leave for the airport, and I really want Goodreads to mark it as finished and reviewed in August. It’s also the only book I’m reading at the moment, which I did on purpose; I wanted to clear out everything before I leave for Egypt just so that I could feel organized and free to start whatever book I want.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m taking my laptop with me to Egypt, but if I don’t, I’ll probably vanish from here for two weeks, because my aunt, who we’re staying with, doesn’t actually have internet at all, so I’ll just be on my phone. But I might just take my computer in the end because I’m enrolled in three classes this semester and they’ve all started, so I’ll need access to Blackboard. Not to mention there might be some Fulbright stuff I have to finish up. I don’t like taking my laptop while traveling unless I absolutely have to, though, so we’ll see.

Mini TV Update: I am completely behind on everything I need to catch up on from last month, and yet somehow I managed to binge two whole other shows. One is called Safe, a British thriller starring Michael C. Hall which was really twisty, and the other is American Gothic, which was also a really twisty thriller/family drama. Both are on Netflix! I also started watching Father Brown; I’m only two episodes in but I’m already loving it. It’s about a Catholic priest who solves crimes. This isn’t even the only British show with a crime-solving clergyman lmao. It’s not even one of two (although the other one also takes place in the 1950s). Why are there so many British shows with crime-solving clergymen?

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Egypt Vacation (and September) TBR

I’m going to be in Egypt for the first two weeks of September! I’m super excited; I haven’t been in about two years. I will get to relax and visit family and the beach and the old bazaar, Khan al-Khalili. This is also my first year traveling with a Kindle, which should surely encourage me to read more than I normally do when traveling!

I don’t know how much time I’ll have in Egypt to read; I don’t really know if we’ll be busy or not. But, there are still two 10-hour plane rides to think about! Oddly enough, I find it difficult to read on planes; I get weirdly distracted. Therefore, for the plane, I have specifically picked out books that I am almost certain I will love, books that have rave reviews and will surely suck me in. For my time on the beach, I’ve picked some books that I think will fit the ~aesthetic~ of being on the beach, not necessarily light or fluffy reads. And then I have a few autumnal books for the rest of the month!

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Plane Reads

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: I don’t think I have heard a single negative thing said of this book. Nearly everyone I know has loved it, and Booktubers sing its praises. It’s said to be a beautiful love story, a tear-jerker, a page-turner, a kind-of thriller, a gorgeously spun tale that grips you from the first page and doesn’t let go. Sounds like exactly what I need for a lengthy plane ride!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab: I feel like I’m the last fantasy fan in existence who hasn’t read this book. You wanna talk about praise? People talk about this book like it’s God’s gift to literature. I’m always a tiny bit underwhelmed by Schwab’s novels, but not because they aren’t fantastic. It’s just that they are hyped so damn much that I always think I’m going to be reading something unimaginable and life-changing, and then it just turns out to be a really good book. So I’m trying to temper my expectations, but this seems to be one of the most beloved books she’s ever written. Also, I kind of waited this long to read it on purpose, so that the sequel would be nearly out by the time I finish, so that I don’t forget anything.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White: I am SO HYPE for this book. I read Frankenstein specifically so that I could read this. White is so good at historical fiction. I read the first page of this and I already love the writing style. One of my qualms with Frankenstein was that we didn’t really get to see much of the women, so I’m so excited to have a book from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza!


Beach Reads

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: I have also been purposely waiting to read this book until the sequel was near! I’ve been seeing so many fabulous reviews of it recently in particular, so I think it’s about time I get around to it. Plus I’m really in the mood for gorgeous writing and strange happenings.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews: I stumbled upon this Victorian romance completely by chance, as I was googling Victorian women’s fashion. The author has her own website where she talks about fashion and she has a nonfiction book coming out all about Victorian fashion! She seems like someone who would write a decent book. I’ve been trying to expand my horizons and read more romance, plus I’ve been getting more and more obsessed with the Victorian era. It’s quite short, so hopefully it’ll be good!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: How old is this book? Am I the only person left who hasn’t read it? It’s hailed as the Thriller to End All Thrillers (in YA, at least), and I’m so curious to see what it’s about! I have somehow managed to avoid learning anything about this book, not even a cursory summary; I just know it’s a mind-twisting page-turner, which should be perfect for chilling in my hotel room at night.


Later That Month

 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Yet another popular book I haven’t read! I’m planning on buddy reading this with Rachel, perhaps in late September? Again I know very little about this (something about a Welsh king??), but I’m looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss: This book is precisely why this month I have endeavored to read so many classics. It is because the major characters in this book are all the female relatives of the male characters in popular classics – so Jekyll’s daughter, Moreau’s daughter, etc. I like Goss’s short fiction and have heard great things about this book. Plus it’s a Victorian novel!

Miserere, an Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock: I  can’t even tell you how I found this weird, obscure book. Like, it’s so weird. It’s some type of medieval tale about a dude who abandons his lover in Hell to bring his sister back, but his sister is evil and doesn’t want to leave Hell. I have literally no idea what to expect from this book, but as I said, I’ve been trying to expand my horizons. That includes reading books that aren’t so popular or that seem just a bit weird; you never know when you might stumble upon a hidden gem!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Maps

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

AUGUST 28TH – Top 5 Bookish Maps

Yo. YO. Have I ever mentioned my obsessive love for maps of all kinds? I have so many maps hanging in my room, I’m always looking to buy more, and I spend way more time than I need to on Google Maps. I JUST LOVE MAPS. There is noting that annoys me more than when a fantasy book does not contain a map. I’m a visual person; I need that map to help me make sense of a story. Plus there are some maps that are illustrated so brilliantly that they’re just great to look at, you know? And as an aspiring writer of fantasy, I’m always crafting my own maps, clumsy though they may be!

I am SO excited for this topic, so excited that I  couldn’t pick only five and had to whittle it down to eight, which are ranked in order of preference, with my absolute favorite coming in at the end of the post, at #1. Click on the maps to enlarge, y’all, I spent so long hunting down high-quality maps lmao!

Oh, also: SHOUT OUT to two maps that didn’t make it onto this list not because I don’t love them, but because they’re so popular and well-known and I wanted to spotlight something else: the Grishaverse map and the map of the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Both fantastic maps, especially the latter, which is hyper-realistic.

And now onto the maps!

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Number Eight (#8)

Say what you will about the Throne of Glass series, but the map is solid! Granted, it’s not super detailed and not terribly pretty, but there’s something soothing about its simplicity nonetheless! I also just like the shape of it.


Number Seven (#7)

I actually read an ARC of Children of Blood and Bone, so I did not get to experience this lovely map as I read! I didn’t end up enjoying this book, but I think the map is so cool. I love the detailed frame (I LOVE framed maps) and the way the structures are illustrated. There’s so many wonderful little details! And I also love that this world appears to be a set of islands strung together; it’s so unique.


Number Six (#6)

This map is deceptively simple. You have to really look at it twice to get a sense of all the details. There’s something very elegant about it, though, and I love the shading around the map! Sadly I didn’t love the book, so I won’t be continuing the series, but I still enjoy the map!


Number Five (#5)

I really love maps that span huge worlds. Even if the story only takes place in a single country, I love having a map that shows me the width and breadth of the entire world the characters are living in. I haven’t actually read Furyborn, so I don’t know if the story takes place across several countries, but I don’t even care – I love having all these nations there for context. And I like how elegant and simple this map is!


Number Four (#4)

This map barely came into play throughout the course of this lackluster book, but it’s still a really cool map. Even though the story only took place in one of these countries, the book referenced other places, and it was great to have this map as a point of reference. It also just looks really cool? Like, something about the way the continents are cut up just looks so visually appealing to me.


Number Three (#3)

This map is really simple, but I just adore it. Perhaps it’s because this is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, or perhaps because it’s one of the first fantasy maps I truly fell in love with, but there’s just something about it that keeps drawing me back.


Number Two (#2)

God, I love this map so much! First, there’s a frame, and it’s so old-world and so elegant. Second, Susan Dennard said it’s based off off Croatia and the Adriatic, which you can definitely see, and I think that’s super cool. And look at those little sea monsters swimming!


Number One (#1)

And we come to the creme of the crop, what is probably the best fantasy map I have ever and will ever see in my entire freaking life. This is my favorite map of all time, y’all. OF ALL TIME. I’ve uploaded a full size version so you can click on it to enlarge and see all the wondrous, gorgeous details. This map ain’t playing around. This map is serious shit. First, there’s the frame, with busts of Aa’s four daughters as well as Niah and Aa himself. Gorgeous and a neat bit of worldbuilding to incorporate onto the map. Then here’s the incredibly detailed structures which hint at the cultures and architectural styles of each country. This map is SO BEAUTIFUL I think I literally almost cried the first time I saw it. Oh, and the map of the city of Godsgrave is nothing to sneeze at either. If anything, it’s actually more detailed than the map of Itreya. I love that we have a map of the whole world and then another, even more detailed map of the major city. LOVE IT. Like, it’s not just a map, it’s a visual representation of the world; it truly helps you picture the city. INCREDIBLE.

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Film Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane_Eyre_PosterBrace yourself, Reader, for I am about to blaspheme:

This movie was better than the book.

Let’s back up for a minute. This is actually my second time watching this film. I first saw it way back when it came out in 2011 because even back then I would watch literally anything in Victorian England. I do remember that I liked it very much, but other than that I remembered almost nothing at all. So, when I finally decided to read Jane Eyre this year, I was very much looking forward to re-watching this film having read the novel. Unfortunately, as you know, the novel ended up being quite a disappointment to me, but I was still excited to watch the film.

It is such a gorgeous, atmospheric movie. Everything that the book was supposed to make me feel I felt while watching this film. I felt the barren isolation of the moors, the moodiness of Thornfield Hall after dark, the Gothic atmosphere of the tale. The film is beautifully shot, with wide-shot scenes of the moors and the English countryside that are absolutely breathtaking.

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender both give brilliant performances.  Not to mention their chemistry is off the charts. In the novel, I never really felt the romance between Jane and Rochester, but in the film I could understand how drawn they were to each other. It was – dare I say it? – a swoon-worthy romance. Wasikowska is a fantastic Jane, stoic and resilient but with a barely concealed strength of spirit. Fassbender is brilliant as Rochester: he is alluring and magnetic and just a bit frightening. The characters were vividly brought to life by these performances.

And of course, I cannot end this review without talking about the music. The score, composed by Dario Marianelli, is utterly sublime. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since yesterday. I’m not musically inclined so I can’t talk about the particulars of the composition, but it is just such gorgeous music, the kind of music that brings tears to your eyes but feels uplifting at the same time. It’s almost Marianelli took the concept of resilience and translated it into music. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s so gorgeous and it suits the film so well.

I absolutely adored this film. Y’all can’t know how much I wish I had loved the novel as much as I loved the film, but alas!

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OwlCrate August 2018 Unboxing!

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My final OwlCrate box! My final book box! I adore OwlCrate, even more than I adored FairyLoot, but alas, I need to be more financially circumspect in the coming year. So, anything that’s not necessary has to go! Plus, I’ve been getting less and less interested in YA fantasy, and they tend to make up the bulk of OwlCrate books, so…yeah.

I was 99% certain what the book of the month was going to be, and I was right! I’m tentatively excited about it because it’s gotten some good reviews, buuuuut I’ve been burned by hyped books before, so we’ll see.

Let’s get to the August 2018 OwlCrate box! Continue reading “OwlCrate August 2018 Unboxing!”