September has not been the greatest month so far, reading and everything else. I only got through four books, but I did manage to make three of them preorders, and I’m working to turn things around. Here’s hoping the second half will be better!
Mini Book Reviews
What: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Review: Well, I’m angry with myself for not reading this sooner, and it’s got that same kind of quality that City of Bones had the first time I read it–I immediately want to start in on the second one and just marathon all three this month. Who knows, it may happen. Throw all my other obligations to the wind and just plunge deep back into the Shadowhunters universe. The reason this got four stars and not five is that I think it’s very dependent on the main series. Clary is an excellent narrator to watch the Shadowhunters world unravel through. And while we learn a lot of the same stuff through Tessa, it’s more compact, and I think if I was reading this as my first Shadowhunters book, I may be stepping back feeling like I was missing out on something. I think, having read TMI, that it’s a lot easier to fall into this and not worry needlessly about the details. For the details are kind of lacking when it comes to explaining the Shadow World.
However, this was still excellent! I only took so long to read it because I paused about a hundred pages in to read a few preorders below, but then binge-read 200 pages of it straight because I was so enthralled by it. I absolutely adore Will & Jem and finally being able to see their friendship play out. I love Tessa, and I can’t wait to see her turn into the fierce, stoic woman she is come TMI. Also, Church at the end wounded me way more than I was expecting. I adored this, and I’m probably going to take the second one off my shelf as soon as I get home.
What: Flames of the Dark Crystal by JM Lee
Review: My review for Shadows, Song, and Tides are linked. It’s fine, I totally wanted to cry right at the beginning of the month. I’M FINE, I SWEAR. I DEFINITELY DIDN’T CRY MULTIPLE TIMES. I want to just flood this review with fanart of Amri, but the world is a cruel place, and I’m one of, like, ten people in total that have read these books. Altogether, there’s, like, maybe 200 reviews for the entire series, but I digress. This was easily my favorite one in the series so far. It was action-packed, full of absolutely adorable romance (that made me cry a little, don’t @ me), high stakes and soft-talk, and everything in between. The characters are really fleshed out now, and the world of Thra is comfortable to step back into. I’d had some issues with the beginning of this series, but now this feels like coming home.
This fourth installment sees our heroes undertaking the task Aughra set them–lighting the fires of resistances. They must band together the seven Gelfling clans in order to rise up against the Skeksis, and in doing so, return to the song of Thra and each other. This one is narrated by Naia, who was the POV character in Shadows, and it was a delight to be back with her. I’m also hoping the trend continues, which will mean Kylan gets the fifth book.
What: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
Review: My review for City of Ghosts is linked. What a delight this was! And what a perfect time for its release! I was impossibly excited by the idea of Cassidy & Jacob in the Parisian catacombs, and let me tell you, this does not disappoint. Do not read this at night if you’re even a little bit scared of ghosts. This follows Cassidy & Jacob as they wander through Paris, hoping to just have a nice, normal trip until they realize they’re being stalked by a poltergeist. And, of course, releasing the poltergeist will require more than one trip to the catacombs.
I honestly gobbled most of this up in one day. I read about 50 pages the first day and then just binge read the other 250 in one sitting. I could have easily stayed up until the wee hours of the morning finishing this in one night, and that’s not even because I love Cassidy & Jacob so much, it’s because it’s that good. I mean, it’s no surprise here that I’m a Schwab fan. I read her books so fast and so close to the release date because I don’t have anything else of hers to read, and while Tunnel of Bones was definitely an auto-buy based on the author, it’s also a five-star read based on the story itself.
Cassidy Blake and her ghostly best friend Jacob (not to mention the grumpy black cat named Grim, of all things) are some of my favorite middle grade characters. They’re interesting, full of flaws that are really very intriguing to watch kids of their ages go through, and have such a lovely friendship. Schwab’s writing is certainly toned down for the age level, but it’s still so elegant and well-crafted. And truly, who doesn’t want to get up to spooky times in the Parisian catacombs? That’s a bucket list item for me for sure.
What: Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi
Review: Look at me, actually following my TBR and reading my preorders! Three in a row, too, I’m so impressed! Originally, I attempted to read this in one day because it’s that good, but it gave me too much stress & anxiety over student loan debt, so I had to pause halfway through. This both made me feel a little less alone in the struggling department, and also like I needed several deep breaths in a brown paper bag. It was expertly crafted, and it reminded me very quickly that Choi writes Deadpool comics in a way that Emergency Contact did not, which is both hilarious and the most fun ever. Seriously, Pablo’s inner monologues/stream of consciousness is some real toned down Wade Wilson vibes, and I am here for it. And man, what they say about this book is true–Pablo is a crap person, and he makes the worst decisions ever, and you kind of hate him a lot of the time, but also? I rooted for him so hard. I wanted him to figure it out because I get it. I know how tempting it is to pretend that debt just isn’t happening to you. Like jfc was a more relatable book ever written? I needed this, both to know that I’m not alone and that I can figure all this insanity out.
You gotta be ready for this book, though, because it’ll knock you out. Pablo is out of luck, out of money, and about to be out on his ass if he doesn’t get his shit together, so he decides to take the best course of action and just ignore everything except the dream girl that’s swept into his life. Enter Leanna Smart, triple threat superstar (singer, actor, model), who enters the bodega where Pablo works in the middle of the night for snacks and ends up causing a heck ton of chaos. No one is right, and no one is wrong, but they’re all a mess, and even though it was a mildly satisfying ending, I still feel like I got punched in the face.
Five stars? I’m going to reread this again when I’m 47 so I can remind myself that I went through student loan debt and I survived. (Because yes, I will not be debt-free until I’m 47. Yay, America.) I need to lay down. This book put me through the ringer.
Belle @ Belle Can Read talked about why science fiction is her favorite genre, and honestly, yeah, same to all of the above.
The Orangutan Librarian gave a shout out to all authors everywhere and reminded us of why they’re so great, and I gotta say, YES AND YES AGAIN!
Aimal @ Bookshelves & Paperbacks wrote a phenomenal review for Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi, which was honestly one of my most anticipated releases of this year, and not gonna lie, SAME. Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books also reviewed it, and also speared me through the heart with a lot of SAME feels.
Brianna @ Pages Unbound talked about one of my absolute favorite topics: DNF’ing. This discussion looked at whether or not you should rate a book if you’ve DNF’d it, and it raises some interesting points.
Oh boy, I don’t want to write this update. Energetically, I’ve been having a really hard time being creative. I’ve got a lot of stress going on right now, and the mere idea of pouring energy into something more than just surviving and reading is–a lot. Thus, I haven’t done a whole ton of writing so far this month. I have been doing a lot of pre-writing for October, which will include some real writing, so there’s at least been that, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
What I’ve Been Watching
My best friend, Erin, visited at the beginning of the month, and since we were both doing witchy things and it’s getting close to Halloween, that meant only one thing:
It has been so long since I last watched The Craft! In fact, the last time I watched it was also the first time I watched it, and Erin was the one that showed it to me in college. It’s been at least five years since then, and we probably watched it before the end of our senior year, so it’s been a long enough time that I literally forgot the entire plot except for the ending. It was so much fun rewatching it, and it immediately made me want to watch a million more, which is probably what kickstarted my next binge.
I’ve never seen the original Addams Family TV show because I am The Worst, and so, after The Craft in the morning and a witchy night in the swamp with Erin & my friend, Bethany, I needed more of the same vibe. I’m about halfway through the first season, and it’s so good! It’s like a Gothic Three Stooges, and it’s an absolute delight.
I didn’t realize there were only eight episodes for season four of Queer Eye, and I finished it on accident! I’m so sad, especially because it was so damn good! I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite season, but there were still a lot of great moments and now I’m officially with the people who are slowly waiting for season five.
Life has been weird lately. On one hand, it’s not been too kind to me. I’m gravitating toward comfort things (Addams Family, rereading The Holy Wild, Harry Potter, yoga) because everything is kind of falling apart, and I’m feeling unwanted and unappreciated in some aspects of my life. I’ve also, as I said above, not been feeling any kind of creative energy, which is really crushing my soul (not to be dramatic or anything). But, on the other hand:
I can’t stop thinking about this night. Yes, this is the grainiest picture ever, and yes, Erin is mostly covered by a tree, but this picture brings me such joy. I met Erin in college, in our sophomore year, and she’s easily one of my favorite people on the entire planet. She lives in way northern Maine, so I don’t get to see her often. She came down to Mass this weekend for a Dodie concert, and I didn’t really give her a choice in whether or not she was going to meet Bethany. I met Bethany technically through my oldest friend ever, Jenna, that I talked about last month, but really, it was because Bethany noticed I was a bit witchy on Instagram and messaged me to ask if I wanted to go into the woods with her and a friend to light candles and be with nature, and I thought heck yes.
My friends are usually all over the place, so they don’t mingle together very well, but I just knew that Erin & Bethany were meant to meet each other, so I set it up. And guys, I can’t even describe to you how blessed I feel for this sisterhood.
We walked a trail in Beverly to find some old estate ruins first, and then we drove over to the Danvers section of the rail trail to walk through the woods and out into the swamp where we found a big platform that branched off the main trail. We laid out blankets, lit candles, arranged crystals, set out flowers, and created a faery feast spread of fruit salad, macarons, lemon cookies, cheese, pomegranate seeds, nuts, cotton candy grapes, and chocolate. We spent FOUR hours in the swamp together, reading tarot and oracle cards for each other, watching the stars, making our own dried flower bundles, nearly dying by candle explosion, and just generally having the best time ever.
I feel seen. I feel known. And I am so grateful that these two women are in my life as my very own sister witches.
Overall, some good and some bad, but I’m working through the bad and trying to focus on the good.