July Reads, Part 1

WOW HI HOW IS JULY HALFWAY OVER??? The end of this second week came up so fast, though that was probably because I was in California for most of it. I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I cried. A lot. I also read absolutely no books while I was there, but then I did a weekend readathon because I was panicking about the sheer number of books on my book cart, so fingers crossed this post is long. Let’s see!


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What: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Various
When: 6/30-7/6
Rating: ★★★★★
Review: About 10 pages into the first story, I knew this was going to be a 5-star read. I also knew that I was going to have to immediately buy Tehlor Kay Mejia’s book because wow that short story hit me straight in the soul. This was truly fantastic. I went into it totally ready for female witches and magic, but GAY witches and magic??? Wow, okay, I’m not sure why I wasn’t expecting that, but it was here and it was queer, and I am so happy. This was honestly every type of witch story you can think of. It was full of fantastic characters, excellent storytelling, and so many incredible authors that I was constantly opening my Goodreads app to add them. Seriously, if you like magic, witches (queer and straight), various genres, and superb writing, check this out.

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What: The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien
When: 6/30-7/5
Rating: ★★★
Review: Ughhhhhhh. You’ll notice I’m not linking a new An Adventure in Tolkien post here because I was so ughhhhh about this book that I could not fathom reading the other two in this series this month. Eventually, I will be tackling the next two, and my longer review for this will be included, but until then, this expands upon the smaller version of the same story included in The Silmarillion, which is 100% unnecessary. In The Silmarillion, we get about two or three chapters, maybe less, that talk about Húrin’s children and how impossibly sad their lives are, and it’s all just so dreary and awful, not to mention there’s accidental incest that was also totally unnecessary. This book does the same thing, but more. You thought Húrin’s children were sad before? Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. They’re sadder in this. Except you’re not going to learn about any new sadness, it’s the same sad, just with more description! Seriously, this book was a chore. It’s got 3 stars because of the interesting artwork and because it is well-written, if boring. Also, if you’d only read this and not The Silmarillion, this would probably be more interesting.

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What: The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
When: 6/30-7/4
Rating: ★★★★
Review: I have owned this book since December 2017. I got it for Christmas with the intention of quickly rereading The Mortal Instruments series because I couldn’t for the life of me remember how it ended, but then it took me over a year to reread TMI. I’ve finally done it, though! The Bane Chronicles are a series of short stories detailing Magnus’ life from just a hundred or so years after his birth up until during TMI. We get to see his adventures, his friendship with Ragnor and Catarina, his initial feelings toward Alec, and everything in between.

This was good. The writing is not on the same level as TMI, which was unfortunate, and I think that’s due to not all of them being solely written by Clare. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad, they’re just okay. I flew through this, even though it looks like I didn’t, and read most of it in one day. The stories were interesting enough to keep me going, and Magnus will always be one of my favorite characters. I’m also a Shadowhunters forever fan, so I think I’m pretty biased when it comes to these books. I’m about to finally embark on the other trilogies, and pretty much nothing is going to stop me from reading these books, and I’m alright with that.

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What: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
When: 7/10-7/12
Rating: ★★
Review: I’m so confused. I don’t know how to feel about this book, honestly. I’m not even really sure what it was about. There are three main characters–Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. The tagline of the book leads you to believe that they play certain roles–hero, villain, liar. Wink places the role of hero on Midnight and villain(???) on Poppy, and only once has the thought of what that makes her, but honestly, the whole hero, villian, liar thing just added to the confusion. I truly thought something had either happened to Wink in her past because she acted like a child for 95% of the book until she did a complete 180 on her character and turned into a semi-murderous evil psycho? Poppy also did a complete 180 on her character, going from stereotypical rich bully to Anne of Green Gables? I’M SO CONFUSED. I kept expecting Midnight to flip on his character, too, but nah, he’s boring from start to finish. He probably has floppy hair and a sad smile and jfc he smiles at a girl who catches him swaying in the trees with his eyes closed in France.

This is the most overindulgent book for absolutely no reason. I don’t get it. I don’t like it. I’m frustrated that I read it. And that’s mostly because I really liked The Boneless Mercies, and I currently have The Seven Endless Forests preordered, but what the hell was this book? What. Is. The. Point. Please, someone tell me. Everything was whispery and moonlit and soft, but nothing happened that made sense. Were there ghosts? Surprise, no. Okay, faeries? Just kidding, nope. How about an unstable girl just trying to find her way in the world? NAH. Instead, you’ve got Wink, who, for no discernible reason (her mom read tarot cards that said she was going to die young, but we don’t find that out until THE LAST 10 PAGES) has decided that she’s going to basically kidnap Poppy and make her into her little pet project because Poppy is in love with Wink’s older brother, Leaf, who is literally only ever described through Poppy as being awful and hating her, so why do we like him??????? So Wink makes it look like Poppy kills herself after they tie her up in the dark? THAT’S FUCKED UP. But Poppy kind of thinks about killing herself, and I’m not really certain about that plot line anymore. Midnight was seriously way too chill this entire book. Bro, you tied a girl to a piano in an abandoned house and left her there for an entire night, and when you got back, she was literally almost dying, and all you did was shrug it off and go about your day? THAT’S FUCKED UP. All of these characters are future serial killers, including Poppy and her flippant switching between being HBIC and small mouse that just wants to live alone in the woods. I don’t understand. I hate this book. It makes no sense. The more I write this review, the angrier I get, so I’m going away now.

Okay, I gave this two stars because a) despite the writing making no sense, the prose was very poetic and pretty, and b) I stayed until the end.

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What: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
When: 7/12-7/14
Rating: ★
Review: I intended to just write a standard two-paragraph review like I normally do while linking both Aimal & Chiara‘s reviews, who very eloquently explained what I was having trouble expressing, but then I got past the first few chapters and decided to create a separate post entirely for this novel, so if you’re really curious about all of my mixed and angry feelings, have at it. Long story short, this novel is the worst.

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What: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
When: 7/13-7/15
Rating: ★★★★★
Review: I really, really wish that I’d saved this for the winter and then taken ALL winter to read it. Like, I wanted to read one chapter a day and just linger as long as humanly possible in this world. I’m going to do that for the rest of the trilogy. Just take all of December and all of January to read one each. Because this deserves a slow read and the right atmosphere. I absolutely loved this, but I would have loved it even more if a) winter and b) slow read. It was just the perfect curl up, sip peppermint hot chocolate, and disappear into a Russian fairytale. Ugh, THIS WAS SO GOOD.

Okay, so this is about Vasya, a little girl growing up in a small village in Russian, who can see all the creatures of the old religion, though no one else can. When a Christian priest arrives in their small village, he convinces the people to banish the leftover acts of their old faith, like leaving out offerings, and as the little creatures start to fade, a deadly malice creeps in. The Bear, famine and fear wrapped together, is pushing at the boundaries of his cage even as his brother, Death, fades as the people’s faith in the old ways turns to fear of God. Only Vasya, called witch by her village, can save them.

Wow, I don’t think I actually knew what this book was about going into it. All I really know is that one of my friends yells about it a lot, so I finally picked it up one day. I knew it was Russian fairytales, but beyond that, not much. Truthfully, Vasya and Morozko reminded me so much of Persephone and Hades, and it was freaking adorable. This was lyrical and magical and atmospherical. It was beautifully written, I adored every single character for how full and well-developed they were, and wow I knew I was going to fall for Morozko because duh sad boy, but I did not expect to fall quite so hard. There is no part of me that wants to wait until winter to read the next two, but I know how much more I’m going to enjoy them if I do, so instead, I shall just sigh contentedly as Morozko’s “Come in, it’s cold.” at the end. SIGH


So far, it seems I only read about 5ish books at the beginning of the month and then a whole bunch at the end, so I’m hoping that stands true for July because boy oh boy do I have some catching up to do. Because I’ve got about two weeks left, and this to read:

  1. The Last Man on the Moon (July TBR; I’ve started this)
  2. Uglies (July TBR–it mistakenly says Pretties on my list)
  3. The Light Between Oceans (July & OWLs TBR)
  4. Once & Future (OWLs TBR)
  5. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (OWLs TBR)
  6. The Wolf in the Whale (OWLs & June TBR)
  7. Wild Beauty (OWLs TBR)
  8. The Last Magician (June TBR)
  9. Shadow & Flame (June release)

Why do we (readers) do this to ourselves? I do love setting TBRs, but man when I completely ignore them, shit hits the fan. I’ve also currently got a few other books on my cart, and obviously I haven’t done a reread or a classic since May, but I’ve unofficially given myself the summer off. I’m going to take August to catch up (and pass my N.E.W.T.s) so that I can have a super chill September BECAUSE OCTOBER Y’ALL. I’m not gonna shut up about my spooky books until it’s here. Also, it’s hot and awful and I just want it to be autumn.

How is your July going? Are you having an excellent reading month? Or, like me, have you not really jumped for joy over anything yet? I’m hoping the second half will be better. Let me know in the comments below!

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Mary RYT 200 Tibetan Buddhism Gryffindor Part-time witch, full-time novelist. Lover of words, planets, dragons, and mountains.

6 thoughts on “July Reads, Part 1

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Toil & Trouble! I read that around Halloween last year and it was the perfect spooky read 😀 And I enjoyed reading your rant on Wink Poppy Midnight, even though I’ve never read it myself. It sounds like a very strange book that I will certainly not be reading.

    Good luck with your reading in the rest of July!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, Wink Poppy Midnight frustrates me so much because the writing is lovely, but the plot is??? Nonexistent? I’m still confused, haha.

      Thank you! It’s going really well so far, so fingers crossed.

      Like

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