What did I do in the second half of August? Really, the question should be what didn’t I do. Gods above and below, I was busy. I didn’t honestly get a ton of reading done because of the sheer amount of things I had to do (see below in my Life update for more!), but I did wrap up my NEWTs in a frantic scramble the last week. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
Mini Book Reviews
What: Wildwood Imperium by Colin Meloy
Review: My reviews for Wildwood & Under Wildwood are linked. I ended up absolutely adoring this as a finale for this series. It was so well crafted, and so damn interesting! The first two books, I was not exactly meh on, but they didn’t hold my attention quite like this one did. Obviously, it still took me a couple weeks to finish it, but I really thought that this was a magnificent third book. It kept me guessing a lot where the previous two did not, and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to end. For a while there, I truly thought Prue was not going to be okay, and while I am pleased with how it ended, it would have been interesting to see Meloy take it down a darker path.
This was, too, at its heart, much more emotional. I was stirred by these characters a lot more than I had been previously, and I read in big chunks because I simply could not put it down at times. I cared for them in a way that I hadn’t in the first two, and that’s definitely what made this such a good ending.
What: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Review: Oh, wow. Okay. I know I’ve said it a lot this year, but this is probably going to end up in my Top 10 come December. Like. Damn. This has got time travel, magicians, early 1900s Manhattan, heists, disability rep, lesbian rep, POC rep, plot twists up the wazoo, a romance that I promise won’t feel overdone, and a really intriguing concept of magic.
When the Brink was cast, it was done so that the magicians currently living in Manhattan could never escape. To cross the Brink would mean the loss of magic, and for many, the loss of their lives. But unrest is building in the city–just because they can’t escape doesn’t mean they’re allowed to live at all. While being forced to hide the existence of their magic, a crew of unlikely
villains heroes must come together to save their kind and find a way to destroy the Brink.
There is so much I can say about this book. First, I have to give a shoutout to my girl, Esta Filosik, who is going down in history as another favorite female protagonist. Like, put her up there with Clary Fray and Karou, and if you know me, that’s some damn high praise. I would murder for Esta Filosik, but she probably would have gotten it all figured out before I even had the chance, and maybe picked a half dozen expert locks along the way. Like, damn. And don’t even get me started on our ragtag group! Between Dolph Saunders’ straight-up Kaz Brekker vibes, but meaner and colder, Jianyu’s brief glimpses of sadness, and Viola’s stiletto-knife wielding kickassery, I was ready to keel over. And that’s not even stopping by the Magician himself, Harte Darrigan. It took me quite a bit to warm up to Harte, but, inevitably, it all came crashing down before I even realized how in love I was with his character.
Beyond the characters, too, is the intricate storytelling. You want time travel that’s actually going to make sense? Are you as mad about the sheer level of inaccuracies in Avengers: Endgame as I am? Look no further! I LOVED how Maxwell handled the time travel in this, and how neatly she wove in little bits and pieces into the future to show how Esta had changed things by being in the past. They were so small, but so good. And that plot twist at the end! Damn, damn, damn. I did not see that coming, and I had this awful sinking feeling as it was starting to unravel, and I just cannot wait to read the sequel. I’m quite nervous because I’ve not heard good things from some reviewers that I trust, but I literally just talked about how I often say “whatever” to reviews and do whatever the hell I want anyway, so fingers crossed!
What: Emma by Jane Austen
Review: I started this a little later in the month than I normally do with classics, so I was nervous about finishing it on time. I’d also seen that it was not people’s favorite of Austen’s because the main character is so unlikeable, and while yeah, Emma is a bit much, she’s also hilarious, and I had so much fun reading this. I absolutely adored Miss Bates, Knightley may be my favorite Austen man so far, and holy moly did I want to punch Mrs. Elton in the face constantly. Overall, this really is the perfect summer read for Austen, and I flew through it in comparison to my first two. It was light, ridiculous, and full of drama and romance.
What: The Cerulean by Amy Ewing
Review: Before we get anywhere: this book is homophobic, racist, and misogynistic, so if you’re uncomfortable with any of those, steer clear. This is about a City Above the Sky, where a polyamorous, all-sapphic community lives while tethered to a planet below them. If you’re so bewildered by my rating because that description sounds amazing, SAME. When their ruling goddess, Mother Sun, determines that it’s time for them to move on because they’ve used up too much of the planet’s resources, a sacrifice must be made. Sera, young and unsure about her place in the community, must fall and give her magic blood to the tether that connects them in order to break it, allowing the City Above the Sky to drift through space searching for a new planet to host them.
Sera lives in a polyamorous, all-sapphic community, AND SHE’S STRAIGHT. The only queer character in this ENTIRE novel lives in a homophobic & misogynistic home where her father says the words, “I wish you were born a boy,” and she says the words, “I know my gender offends you” back to him, and I just want to die. ALL of the villains are POC. All of them. In fact, only one of the side male characters is even a little bit okay, but he’s been relegated to a servant because he’s a POC. And it’s so weird because every time it was a Sera or Agnes chapter, it was mostly good. As soon as a Leo chapter snuck in, though, I just hated everything all over again. And then, toward the end, I was mildly considering reading the sequel, but it’s definitely looking like Sera/Leo is going to be a thing, and I’m just? I hate him? He’s part of the problem? He sucked even at the end? Why does this book exist?
My coworker said to me at lunch, “I just can’t believe books like that still exist, and are being written by people our age.” SAME THOUGH
What: Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
Review: Y’all, this was so good. Like, talk about an enemies to grudging accomplices to lovers story, damn. This has probably every single trope you’ve ever thought of, and then some, in it, but they’re done in a really celebratory way. Like, you know how we’re always saying “write the book you want to read?” Well, Selene went and did that, and it was pretty damn awesome. Plus, the writing is gorgeous, the court politics were so twisted and fun, and I looooooved how the magic was done. It was very unique in the whole nature vs nurture aspect, and I am very excited to read the next in this duology(?).
Amber & Dusk is about a young girl who has hidden her magic all her life. Growing up bullied and hated and told to hide her true self, Mirage finally escapes and makes for the one place that might have answers for her–the Amber City. Now, I’ve seen a lot of people call Mirage a “special snowflake” or give this story flack because it leans on tropes like that, but that’s really nonexistent here. Mirage’s magic in no way influences the story, or is like Alina from Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo. in that it’s one of a kind and will save everyone. In fact, Mirage’s magic is kind of lame in comparison to a lot of the other people at court. She does have a bit of the “special snowflake” aspect going for her, but not because other people have lifted her up. Mirage thinks she deserves attention simply because she believes she’s got royal blood, and she’s honestly got a lot of people telling her to calm down and earn her keep.
While we’re here, I’ve got to touch on the whole “Sunder is just recycled Cardan garbage” nonsense that I’ve seen in a few reviews. Guys. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black came out in January 2018. Amber & Dusk came out in November 2018. It is literally impossible for Cardan to have influenced Selene’s choices for Sunder at all. The amount of time it takes to draft a novel the first time, never mind getting to a final draft that’s ready to be published–that alone takes more than nine months. But to also have it finalized by an editor and set free in the world? Yeah, sorry, no, Selene already had Sunder’s character fully in hand before Cardan was even in the public eye, so you can quit it with your thinly veiled plagiarism call-outs. You just look dumb.
I promise I’m wrapping this up, I seriously did not intend for this review to be so long, I just really enjoyed this! Yes, it’s full of tropes. Yes, it’s suuuper predictable. But you know what? It’s done really well, and it’s almost refreshing because of that. I got this very big sense of “here’s what I love and how much I love it and why I love it so much,” and I am here for that kind of unapologetic joy in writing.
So, next month is September.
Have I been waiting for Halloween since August 1st? Yes. Do I realize that Halloween is not until October? Yes. Was I planning on a mildly spooky September TBR until I looked at my upcoming preorders? Help.
I’ve got a lot planned for Halloween on this blog. Top 10s, book reviews, movie recs, Salem adventures, and a massive TBR. I’m not spoiling any of it yet since I’m just so damn excited, but keep an eye out toward the end of September for a list of all the upcoming haunted happenings. But! Because my Halloween TBR is so big and I have a crap ton of blogs to write before October hits, I had originally planned to take it easy in September with my TBR, and then I realized I had SIX incoming preorders in September with FOUR still leftover from the summer, and yeah, we’re not doing a TBR next month.
However, here are the 10 (in total) preorder books I’m planning on getting to:
- Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett (6/4)
- Salvation Day by Kali Wallace (7/9)
- Flames of the Dark Crystal by JM Lee (8/27)
- Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier (8/27)
- Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake (9/3)
- Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab (9/3)
- Beneath the Dark Crystal, Vol. 2 by Jim Henson (9/3)
- Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi (9/3)
- To Love and Let Go by Rachel Brathen (9/17)
- Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (9/24)
For September’s classic, I’m going to try my damndest to finish Ulysses by James Joyce. I got halfway through in March, and I really wanted to finish it out before the year ended. I’m also thinking about doing a Tolstoy over the winter, so I definitely won’t have time after my classic for Halloween to fit another hard book in with a Tolstoy. I’ll also be attempting to tackle some adult literary fiction books, but make no promises.
I’m hoping to clear out my preorders and anything that’s been lingering on my TBR cart in anticipation for October’s insanity, so fingers crossed!
- Simone @ Simone and Her Books broke down one of my favorite topics–being a slow reader. Despite reading a lot, I am generally a very slow reader. The only reason I get so much done is because I have a lot of down time at work, so it only looks like I read really fast because I read for anywhere between 2-5 hours a day. And it’s okay to be a slow reader! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it’s nice to hear that out in the blogosphere.
- I think we’re all pretty aware by now that Harry Potter is my ride or die series, so when Jami @ Jami Shelves listed her Top 10 Favorite Scenes, I just about bit the bullet of excitement.
- Xandra @ Starry Sky Books really got me thinking with her discussion post on how many main characters is too many? I’m a definite give everyone a POV chapter type of reader (and writer, you’ve been warned), but it turns out there are definitely some books that I’d prefer with less.
- Margaret @ Weird Zeal strikes again in her Future of YA series, this time asking the question of why adults read YA, and yes. Yes, and yes again to everything she’s said. We need a NA category desperately.
- Crazy Cat Lady Reads reviewed Prisoner of Azkaban, and if her puns alone didn’t kill me, that fabulous review certainly did the trick!
- Taasia @ Librae Paints Pages discussed a few reasons why she doesn’t have a Bookstagram, and I gotta be real with you guys, I considered a lot of them before finally caving, but the consumerist promotion is a really interesting hot take, and I am fully behind it.
Well, I decided that I was sick of feeling in limbo, and I finished edits on my novel in a single day. I only had six chapters left and not a whole heck ton to do, but it feels good to finally have that squared away! This is the first of a second duology in a larger universe, and while it’s absolutely not necessary for it to be written before I start making moves with the first duology, it still feels nice to know it’s in good shape.
I’m watching TV again!
This year (yes, all the way since January), I’ve been doing this really weird thing with myself. In college, I watched a lot of TV. I’ve talked before about how I thought I had to read certain books based on my field of study/age group (yes I’m linking that post twice), and that definitely contributed to why I watched so much TV. But when I graduated, I found that I really loved that medium. It doesn’t end as quickly as a movie does, and it gives me the space to escape for a bit without investing too much brain power. I binged a lot in college and post-graduation, up until about last year sometime where I started spending a little more time reading at night than watching TV. And then, this January, something changed. I decided I didn’t have time for TV. I had to keep up with my reading. I couldn’t fall behind.
Do you know what’s really fun? Stressing out about reading. I mean, seriously? We all do this, but why? Reading is supposed to be fun!
So, I gave myself a little smack across the head, said, listen up you’re allowed to veg sometimes figure out a book TV balance ya psycho, and rearranged my brain a little. In an effort not to slide back into my get home watch TV and Youtube for four hours before slouching off to bed routine, I’m only allowing myself Friday & the weekends to watch TV. This honestly works out because I very rarely want to read on the weekends after the insane hustle & bustle that is my weekday life, so here’s to a new section on the wrap-up posts about what I’ve been watching!
Not only did I finally finish my TMI reread and (!!!) get through the two short story collections I already owned, I am officially done with Shadowhunters. I truly wish I wasn’t done because this show is one of my ultimate faves. My sister, while dropping in and out of my weekend marathon of the last season, said, “Okay, but you know this is crappy telly, right?” I do, I definitely do, and apparently that turns it into an awesome show? After she was assured that yes, I’m aware this is General Hospital crossed with Vampire Diaries, she was onboard with how insanely addictive and fantastic this show is. I’m so sad to leave these characters behind, particularly because I think a lot of them were stellar portrayals (ALL THE CROWNS FOR KAT MCNAMARA BRINGING MY GIRL CLARY TO BADASS LIFE), and I am bummed that they had to shift so many plot points from the book to make up for the cancellation, but I appreciate that they really worked on closing everything out and giving us a satisfying ending!
Oi, it has been a Month. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are always hell. I teach yoga after my full-time job, so I look forward to Thursdays a lot. Unfortunately, the first Thursday, I had to take my cats to the vet, and one of them had to get blood drawn. She’s fine, thank goodness, but she lost a whole pound over the last year, and we’re a little concerned. On the one hand, I’m glad I’m not crazy. I could see her hip bones when she walked, and it was really freaking me out, so while I’m not glad she lost so much weight, I am glad that I wasn’t being neurotic about her. On the other hand, what the hell is wrong with my cat??? Her bloodwork came back fine, so now I’ve got to really keep an eye on her eating, which might mean separating their food and making them eat at specific times. Grace is a straight up princess, and will not take kindly to that, and Lily’s got too much running around to do to be able to focus on her food for a specific time. This is going to be interesting.
The weekend arrived, and it was longggggg. After teaching Saturday morning, it was off to my uncle’s for a small get together. This was by no means something I didn’t want to do since I love my family a lot, but it had a bit of an exhausting ending. I won’t go into it because it’s not my story to tell, but I spent a lot of time with one of my cousins, and I’m just glad she’s okay.
I did, however, get this really cute picture!
On the left is my mom, and on the right is my aunt (her little sister). The story goes that my mom, right after giving birth to her first child, was so exhausted that she handed me off to my aunt and promptly fell asleep. What began that early morning was a friendship for the ages. I’m closer to my aunt than probably anyone else beyond my immediate family, and I love her to pieces. She’s been my role model growing up, and I love any time that I get to spend with her. Her girls are some of my favorite people in the world, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them.
We got home pretty late that night, and I decompressed with the last 100 pages of The Last Magician, which left me stunned, and then it was up for another long day on Sunday. After feeding my friend’s cat, I got ready for a bridal shower. Ready? My best friend’s twin brother’s fiancé had her bridal shower at Tupper Manor this weekend.
Yes, I think I’m fancy. Tupper Manor is beautiful, and Heather had this delicate Parisian theme going that made it somehow even more so.
After that, I had a pretty busy night, and by the time I got home, it was past my bedtime and I hadn’t meal prepped. I decided to just go to bed and have a PBJ for lunch at work the following day, but man, I am peopled out.
The second week, we celebrated my mom’s birthday on the Monday (after I taught), I had my double classes on Tuesday, one class on Wednesday, and Thursday was blissfully free. I got a tattoo on Friday, and then it was another busy weekend with a class & a trip to Halibut State Park on Saturday, a walk along the Wenham/Ipswich section of the rail trail and a quick trip to York for night-beaching and dinner. It’s Labor Day in the US, so I’ve got the day off and a stack of books next to me with plans to walk a wildflower trail in Willowdale later.
And that’s a wrap on August! I really want to do better on my reading and writing next month, so I’m hoping for a super productive September.