Firstly, here is the TBR. My intention was to rush to complete the O.W.L.s that everyone else smartly completed in April so that I could participate in the N.E.W.T.s next month. Both exams are hosted by Book Roast on Youtube, and I am super excited to be trying for wandmaker! I could have gone with one of the expected ones, like writer or professor, but wandmaker sounds badass and all I’ve ever wanted is to be a witch, so I’m barrelling straight into my destiny.
Oi, I am RILED UP right now because I’m about 100 pages into Once & Future as I’m beginning this post, so let’s get straight into the wrap-up.
I’ll be reading the above books and discussing each of them in some kind of detail at some point in this very long rambling post.
Tuesday, the 16th
I was supposed to start reading yesterday. I didn’t. I was finishing up my weekend readathon by reading the last 200 pages of The Bear and the Nightingale, but now I’m here, and I’m 100 pages into THE MOST GLORIOUS BOOK IN THE WORLD
Okay, I know people got all hot and bothered about the erratic and fast-paced plot, and I’m sure that’ll catch up with me in a chapter or eight, BUT WOW UNTIL THEN
I love this freaking book so much. I am going to spontaneously combust from giggles. Between teenage, grumpy, SO SAD, super gay Merlin and impatient, wants to stab and punch everything, super gay Ari, I am a mess. Guys. I will not be contained. Arthurian myth is my jam. Like peanut butter jelly time JAM.
I am overheating. Oh my god. I had to take off my sweater. This weekend I was literally saying that I needed a
- Victoria Schwab
- Laini Taylor
- Amanda Foody
- Leigh Bardugo
to ruin me
AND THE UNIVERSE DELIVERED
I am in a constant state of rewatching BBC’s Merlin. I think this is the fourth time now? (WELL IT’S ABOUT TO BE THE GODDAMN FIFTH) I strong-armed my way into a proxy that let me watch it live on the BBC in college so that I didn’t miss a single second of the fifth season because I was pretty sure that I would perish otherwise.
Okay, Ari doesn’t lie, so I’m not going to, I’ve never watched the season five finale a
second third time. (I definitely watched it a second time, I remember those tears.) I want you to imagine a small college dorm, a roommate who gives two shits about King Arthur, and a smaller, still as obnoxious, version of me absolutely sobbing into a wooden desk while Merlin was paused onscreen in mid-cry.
Oh, it was ugly.
Okay, it’s been a couple hours, and I am still delirious over this book, but I’m calling it a day for now. I’ve read about 160 pages, and I need to take a breather.
Also, the goddamn aesthetic for this novel is killing me. THE SPACE OPERA VIBES ARE KILLING ME. I have no chill. Will tomorrow be better?
Wednesday, the 17th
Okay, I had to get some non-readathon goals out of the way, so did a quick 50 for my astronaut biography this morning, and I’m aiming to read another 100 of Once & Future, pause after that to read 50-100 of Uglies because it’s on my July TBR, and then I’ll probably be done with work at that point, so after I teach yoga tonight, read the last 100ish pages of O&F. Let’s do this.
YOU CAN’T JUST
ONE YEAR LATER
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN BOOK
you know when you’re reading a book and you’re supposed to be writing a review for it BUT THEN THE CASTLE IS A SPACESHIP, so you’re just struck dumbfounded and keep speed-reading
THE AESTHETIC OF THIS BOOK I S2G
I’m lolllllllllll’ing SO HARD at past Mary who thought she was gonna stop after another 100 pages
I just keep mumbling in my head “don’t spoil it in the review don’t spoil it in the review don’t spoil it in the review” BUT WOW DO I WANNA
I’m not going to
So, hi. I’m taking a moment to breathe because I just want to continue shouting in all capslock, so it actually does seem like a good time to take a break post-100 pages. Wow. A lot has happened. Which is what a lot of the reviews complain about. And don’t get me wrong, I just described this as “it’s wild and exciting and kind of like being pinned back in your seat by warp speed.” But you know what else this very strongly reminds me of?
Oh boy does it remind me of Fifth Element, which is weird and insane and just throws so much at you all at once and then is like OKAY WE’RE MOVING ON NOW ARE YOU READY NO THAT’S FINE HERE WE GO. So here’s my counter argument for all the reviews that say it’s too fast-paced, it doesn’t develop enough, and it’s just all over the place–
Uh, yeah. I think that’s kind of the point? Obviously, it’s not at the mastery level that Fifth Element is, but Once & Future reminds me A LOT of those wacky 90s scifi films that were overly colorful, full of crazy side characters, and practically sprinting through its plot.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets anyone? Oh man, I’m totally rewatching this soon. The comics were amazing, but the movie? EVEN BETTER. Look, I used to hate this kind of scifi, and it drove me insane, but I’ve slowly learned to love the hell out of it, and I will die in saturated colors, planet-hopping, and stun gun pew pew furious style plots for the rest of my life. You can have your Star Trek. I’ll be over here with this kind of chaos.
Because that’s what this book is. CHAOS. Drenched in queerness, comedy, and a pink and blue Excalibur. I mean, really, did no one look at that cover and think this was going to be anything but our wildest dreams come true?
You may bury me with this book.
I promise the rest of this wrap-up will not be like this. I have less than 100 pages of this book that I’m going to blast through tonight, and the rest of my O.W.L.s TBR is super chill. Until then, I have found the auditory equivalent of this glorious chaotic mess. Feast your earballs.
Wow, okay, the video is even better.
I’m done. Five million stars. This is going in my top 10 at the end of the year.
Now to choose what comes next.
Thursday, the 18th
I currently have with me:
- The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan (July TBR)
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (July TBR)
- Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (OWLs TBR)
- The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (OWLs TBR)
I have four books with me. And I’m gonna try to read a little bit of all of them, here we go.
See, I told you the rest of this was going to be super chill. Read about 50 pages of my astronaut biography today, two Shadowhunter short stories totaling 123 pages, and about 125 pages of Uglies. Overall not a lot of progress for OWLs TBR, but quite a bit for July TBR, so I’m pleased with that. I have lots to say about Uglies, but I’ll save that for my wrap-up review. As for the Shadowhunters short stories, I’m enjoying them less than the Magnus ones so far, but they’re still fairly interesting. I’m really eager to get over them, though, and get to the two trilogies.
Tonight, I’ve got a concert, so that’s it for today!
Friday, the 19th
Today is a busy day, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done. I’m leaving work around 10AM to teach yoga to the kids at my city’s summer parks program, and I’ll be gone for about two hours. I’ve also got another concert tonight, and I’m leaving work a little early to get there on time. My goal is to read a hefty chunk of Uglies, though, two more short stories in the Shadowhunters collection, a bit of the astronaut bio, and hopefully some of The Light Between Oceans so I can get a little further along for the OWLs.
Wow, I completely forgot how unbearably sad this story is sometimes. I’ve seen the movie, and I’m going to drop in the trailer below, but it’s just absolutely breaking my heart.
I also definitely need to watch it again because I think I missed the beginning, and then I was only vaguely paying attention to the rest of it.
Teaching the kids was really fun today, but I got back to a lot of work, so I’m not going to get as much reading done as I’d planned. I also don’t anticipate any reading getting done tomorrow as we’ve got a family reunion/party happening, so that’ll most likely be an all-day thing. Hopefully, I can sneak some in on Sunday, but for now, I’m going to switch over to Shadowhunters.
Monday, the 22nd
As predicted, I read nothing for this TBR this weekend. I did manage to finish Uglies, so that’s checked off one for my July TBR and left me open to work on my OWLs this week. I also read about 50 pages of my astronaut biography, which I’m going to continue doing every day this week. My goal is to have that finished by the end of the week. As for my OWLs TBR, let’s check in:
- Once & Future DONE
- The Light Between Oceans I’ve got about 250 pages left, but I plan on finishing this by Wednesday.
- Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy oi, I have so much left; I’m reading these one story at a time, and have 7 out of 10 left. I’d like to have this finished by end of week, but we’ll see.
- Wild Beauty it’s in my bag, and if I have time today, I plan on starting it! I want to have this finished by end of week.
- The Wolf in the Whale okay, this monstrosity is 544 pages, which means I’m going to need a solid 3-4 days to read this, so I need to start reading it by Friday.
Overall, not too great, but I haven’t got a lot of actual work this week, so I’m going to put my nose to the pages and get them done.
Okay, well. I wrote this update sometime before 9AM this morning, and it’s now 2:30PM, and I’ve done literally nothing for my OWLs TBR, but I just finished my requisite 50 astronaut pages, so moving over to sad Australians for a bit.
I don’t think I’ve said it here yet, but I have on Goodreads–the Shadowhunters short stories are some serious fan service. Don’t get me wrong, the Magnus Bane ones were, too, but these just go above and beyond, and not in the right way. To quote myself, “This book is SUCH fan service, but not in the Carry On way, where you’re really happy it’s happening, but in the somehow I got lost in ff.net on my way to AO3 and I can’t figure out how to get out.”
Double yuck because she just dropped an Oscar Wilde quote, and THAT GIVES ME HOPE DAMN YOU.
oh my god
I was trying to see how many pages this massive thing is, and there are THREE previews for books that were ALREADY PUBLISHED at the time the short stories were coming out. Like, if you’re reading these short stories, you’ve probably read at least one of the series already.
I’m annoyed, if you couldn’t tell. Let me set the record straight: I’m a diehard Shadowhunters fan, but I recognize it’s got a lot of dumb in it.
The Oscar Wilde story turned out excellent, but that’s because it’s about Herondales, so. Excellency is to be expected.
I HAVEN’T EVEN READ INFERNAL DEVICES YET AND I LOVE THEM
Tuesday, the 23rd
Super fast update: I finished my astronaut biography, read 75 pages of Light Between Oceans, and intended to read more, but then watched the documentary for the bio when I got home, and that was my Tuesday!
Wednesday, the 24th
All I want is to complete my TBRs. Is that so much to ask? But I miss writing so much, and I haven’t done it in over a week because I’ve been working my butt off trying to get all of these damn books read. And I know that completing TBRs is completely self-inflicted, but I like reaching my goals, guys, and I haven’t since before summer started, so DAMN IT I’m going to.
why is this book so fucking sad
like look at that adorable child and her small cat
I’ve got 100 pages left, and I can’t remember how the movie ends, so it’s gonna fuck me up no matter what. Also, I am 100% going to need to rewatch the movie now. Also also, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack today while reading, AND IT’S NOT HELPING THE SAD.
Wow, okay, so I made it 338 pages before I started crying. Five pages from the end. Seriously. This book was a lot of emotions. I’m so glad I read it, but I am so drained now.
Alright, I’ve finished two out of five books. I have the second half of the Shadowhunters short stories and all of both Wild Beauty and The Wolf in the Whale. For my regular July TBR–oh. Wait. The Light Between Oceans was the last one. Well, okay then, I’m feeling mighty grand about that. I can do this. Two and a half books in a week? Easy as pie.
Thursday, the 25th
I read 100 pages of Wild Beauty last night, and I’m planning on knocking a lot of it out today, but first, I’ve got to read some of The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by the Try Guys because I’m going to see them on Saturday!
This book is so good. I normally take bookstagram pictures in front of my bookshelves, but I knew, with the raised flowers on this cover, that I had to find somewhere special for it. I got Wild Beauty at the same time as The Weight of Feathers and Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore. All I’d read of hers was When the Moon was Ours and a short story in both All-Out and Toil & Trouble, but I knew that I had to read the rest, so I bought her other three novels without any idea whatsoever what they were about. I still didn’t know what Wild Beauty was about before I started it, and honestly, I think that’s the way to read magical realism. Just go in blind and let it consume you.
Again, like O&F, this book has such a lovely aesthetic, and I am here for it. Really. Give me beautiful things all the time. A Frances Hodgson Burnett quote was such a perfect one to put at the beginning of this book. This feels like The Secret Garden, but dashed with faeries and wild magic. It’s just gorgeous, inside and out.
And beyond the aesthetic, McLemore is a truly fantastic writer. She captivates in a way that I’m never going to get over. I feel like I am being swallowed whole by flowers.
100 pages later, and I am still being swallowed whole by flowers, but now, with the added bonus of excellent romance. UGH WHY IS MCLEMORE SO GOOD AT EVERYTHING
Friday, the 26th
Not only did I teach kids yoga this morning, we had a pizza party at work, so it’s 2PM, and I haven’t read a single thing today.
Sunday, the 28th
Last night was Try Guys, and it was amazing! I won’t go into huge detail because that’s not what this post is about, but it was probably one of the best shows I’ve seen, and I just loved it so much.
The only book I read yesterday was theirs so I could finish it up, and currently, I have four books sitting next to me. But Mary, you wonder, don’t you only have one and a half left for your O.W.L.s? You are very correct. I like to reward myself while reading with more reading. My goal this afternoon is to read a minimum of three Shadowhunters short stories and two “books” of The Wolf in the Whale. There are five books total in it, and I have four days (including today) to finish it, so one book a day sound good, especially because I still have five short stories left.
Let’s do this.
This is the longest post ever, I’m so sorry.
I finished Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! This means I didn’t start the other book, but it does mean that I read a little over 300 pages today, so now all I have is the 550 to cover in the next three days. Also, these collection of short stories were just so stupid. I gave it three stars without hesitation, but I’d like to point out that that doesn’t mean I’m mad I read them. As I’ve said before, I love the Shadowhunters world, and nothing is going to stop me from reading them. Yes, I recognize they’re completely idiotic sometimes. All 650 pages of that book were pure fan service (albeit very poorly done), but that’s the thing about guilty pleasures. There’s no reason why you keep going back other than it just makes you happy.
Monday, the 29th
Mondays are always busy, so I only managed to read about 100 pages of The Wolf in the Whale while at work, and while it’s not making me go WOW and all wide-eyed, I’m going to read more tonight since two very reliable sources have told me this is excellent.
Tuesday, the 30th
Okay. I like this book. It is, like The Bear and the Nightingale, the absolute wrong time for me to be reading this. I mean, I should have known better. It literally takes place in the Arctic, and it’s currently–hold please–87°F, but feels like 94°F. Gross. It’s also an adult book, which I’m not against, but they take longer for me to get into, and I’m trying to read this faster than I want to, and it’s making me want to drag my feet and read James Bond/Q fanfiction. I’M NOT GOING TO, but it’s a struggle.
That was at about 9AM, I’d say. It’s now 1:30PM, and I’m not exactly enjoying this. It’s very gory and very graphic, and the entire whale hunting scene just left me feeling nauseous. It feels very accurate, yes, but it also reads like GRRM does. Accurate to the point of unnecessary. This is why I don’t often read adult fantasy. It’s just overflowing with violence, rape, and utter despair.
MILD SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT, but also necessary trigger warnings
I love the idea of this book. This cold, Arctic setting that brings Inuits and Vikings together. But there is literally no hope in it. I’ve gotten 200 pages in, and all I’ve read about is:
- women being disempowered in Every Possible Way
- literally everyone dying in brutal ways
- whale, seals, and dogs being butchered
- the rape of the main character both by a man and a god (that’s 100% what that scene is meant to be)
- a baby’s skull being crushed
Like? I’m not happy right now? I feel hopeless? And helpless? This does not make me want to keep reading. And I’ve been told it gets better, but that all happened in only 200 pages. I’ve got 350 left to read, and what I’ve already read leads me to believe it’s just going to get worse.
It’s been a couple hours (now almost 5PM) and more pages (probably about 100?), and it is getting better. The Norseman, Brandr, is tall and kind of goofy and has a broken past, but he’s also a murderer and a rapist, so there’s that. The Inuk, Omat, is a little less hopeless than before, though that’s mostly because he conveniently got a lot of Brandr’s memories and can now speak Norse. Like, the whole interlude to the indigenous people felt like a way to just casually make everything easier for Brandr & Omat, which is just a whole other bag of cats.
So you’ve got the Inuit, who come into the indigenous people’s land, learn skills from them, and then basically murder everyone before they move onto living on the ice. And then you’ve got the Norsemen, who we all know are pillagers, also murdering the indigenous people and taking their land. Because that’s what Vikings do, and I accept that. I’m not saying I’m mad that we’re getting typical Viking history. I’m mad that we spent a couple chapters with some indigenous people purely so that their skills could give an Inuk (whose family murdered them) the power to understand Norse (whose people still murder them). Like, way to just totally degrade & debase indigenous people to help a POC understand the only white person in the story. Great job. I get that Omat is the one with the magic and the power to understand languages, but really. We had to give Omat the Norse language and not Brandr the Inuk language. And then also completely ignore the Inuk language from then on.
AND THEN they attacked the indigenous people. AGAIN.
This book is a mess.
It’s “getting better” because the main characters can now communicate with each other, and Omat has definite Feelings, and Brandr is a total typical Norseman (again, tall and kind of goofy) despite being absolutely useless at everything, but that’s about all that I can appreciate right now.
Wednesday, the 31th
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FAVORITE BOY! I’m rewarding myself with Sorcerer’s Stone as soon as I finish The Wolf in the Whale. I’ve got 168 pages left, so LET’S DO IT.
I got angry because this book sucks, and so pretty big spoilers ahead.
So Loki’s arrived to the party. I saw a review somewhere saying that this part of the book dragged (and the other half didn’t???), but honestly, this part is flying by with little to no sense. Character development? That’s boring. Plot? Who cares. Am I still interested? Nope, just trying to make it to the end.
Seriously, Omat nearly gets raped (for the third time), and mere chapters after he escapes, he’s suddenly in love with Brandr and ready to bang. In a surprise twist that no one saw coming because it was not hinted at all, Loki’s real! And he’s been with them all along! Like, good writing means being able to look back and see where twists started to slowly reveal themselves. This one literally came out of nowhere. But as soon as Loki came into the story for real, the pace just start sprinting.
Also, Jesus is a character, and apparently he’s real, but it really doesn’t fit in with the rest of the story. Yes, I get that Christianity was starting to threaten the Vikings and that they wanted to kill everyone, but Omat literally has a vision of Jesus walking through the desert before being staked on the cross. After being without his magic for most of the book. Okay, so? Did you need to add to your word count or something?
And Freydis? We get no backstory other than “the gods gave her visions” and “she wanted an adventure like her brothers.” Like??? THAT’S NOT A GOOD MOTIVE FOR MURDER.
I don’t even watch Brooklyn 99, and this is immediately where my brain went. Tumblr, why.
“Yet spirit or no, I could kill.”
That makes zero sense. Sorry that you can’t subvert literally all of mythology ever, but if you’re not in corporeal form, you can’t do jack shit.
I swear to god if the wolfdogs die, I’m gonna fucking set this book on fire.
It occurs to me that, with no previous knowledge of Norse mythology, this book would be incomprehensible from the halfway mark on. Like, I’ve done quite a bit of studying into Norse mythology, and even Marvel has helped a bit, but if you went into this blind, like I’ve done with the Inuit mythology, you’d be totally lost. Because we get a heck ton of knowledge about the Inuit myths from Omat, but absolutely nothing about Norse myths from any of the actual Norse characters. All of it comes from Omat, who only vaguely understands, and even what he understands is only given to us in fragmented pieces. So unless you’ve, at the very minimum, done some homework before diving into this, good frickin’ luck.
Well, one wolfdog has died.
Annnnd, there go the other two.
Oh great! The whole point of this book was for Omat to get his brother back! And just when they’re back together, the brother is killed! This story is awesome!
And more descriptions of gore and death! Yay!
If I give this book more than 2 stars, it will be because some insane miracle happened in the last 30 pages.
oh holy shit “this god of sheep” that’s what they just called Jesus okay that’s making me laugh BECAUSE YEAH
Honestly, I’m not rereading the last bit to make sure it’s all grammatically correct and whatnot. That book exhausted me, and I don’t want to think about it anymore. I was going to commend the fact that the main character is transgender/Two Spirit (I just learned about that Inuit term!), but there are some pretty big moments of transphobia, both from the “villains” and from Omat himself, so I dunno. I was also unsure what pronoun to use because Omat refers to himself as a man for about 95% of the story, so I apologize if I’ve offended anyone.
Anyway. What a shitty way to end such a good reading month. Here’s hoping NEWTs will be better! And if you survived this long into the post, you’re a badass.