Earlier in the month, I decided to do away with chronological TBRs altogether. I had about 15 books left that I wanted to read before the new year, all purchased in 2018, but I was finding that I just either wasn’t reading or I was reading so slowly, absolutely dragging my feet, because I wasn’t currently interested in those 15. It’s been a long time since I mood read, and it’s been enjoyable so far to return to that!
Mini Book Reviews
Changing up the format for these again because I’ve been hating how they look once published and I want to streamline them a little more, so we’ll see if this works! I’m doing away with the kind of summary paragraph I had before and just providing a one-sentence hook (I love coming up with these) to convince you to read, but if you want the full summary, the titles are all still linked to Goodreads!
The Raven Boys | Maggie Stiefvater (10/31-11/5): First, my longass (full of spoilers) review can be found here. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever reviewed this book on the blog? I’ve definitely read it enough times, but it’s been awhile. This is my favorite of the series, and my second favorite series of Maggie’s. (I have a special place in my heart for Sam Roth.) This is an exceptional novel. It’s masterfully crafted, and the characters in it are so good. It’s one of the things that keeps drawing me back to this series, and one of the primary reasons I keep reading Stiefvater books. Her characters are the best of the best.
Hook: Five teenagers traipse through rural Virginia in search of a dead Welsh king that they suspect is sleeping on a ley line.
Grimoire Noir | Vera Greentea & Yana Bogatch (11/6-11/7): This was an absolute delight. I don’t honestly normally buy graphic novels all that often, but the art in this was so lovely, and it’s about witches and ghosts and teenage detectives, so I was super into the concept, as well. And the art continued to be lovely! It was very sephia-like with a lot of focus on the eye colors, and oh, the hair. The hair itself was just so whimsical and floaty. Truly, if you like all those Instagram artists who do floaty-haired, modern aesthetic witches, you’ll like this. The story was really intriguing, as well, and I would totally read more in this universe.
Hook: When Beauregard “Bucky” Orson’s little sister goes missing, he thinks she’s been kidnapped by the Crows Coven to use in ritual sacrifice to restore magic to their sleepy town.
Opal | Maggie Stiefvater (11/8): This was actually my first time reading this! I intended to reread the whole series before getting to this and then CDTH, but alas, I was overambitious, and it didn’t happen. I knew I wanted to read this before CDTH, though, so I quickly breezed through it while waiting in an hour-long line for dinner with my family. This was an absolute delight, truly. Being able to see through Opal’s eyes and how she views Adam, particularly, was just so sweet and fun.
Hook: A magical, hoofed girl born from a disappeared magical forest just wants to eat some trash.
Call Down the Hawk | Maggie Stiefvater (11/9-11-10): Wow, what do I even actually say about this? I’m not sure when Maggie first announced that she was writing a Ronan-centric sequel trilogy to TRC, but it feels like I’ve been waiting three years for this, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait. This was everything that I wanted it to be, and more. I loved literally every single page of it. I’ve long trusted Maggie not to disappoint, and she never has so far, and I just? This is outstanding. How does she do it? It’s not only incredibly written, the characters just stymy me. Like, I did not plan on coming out of this rooting for Declan Lynch. I was ready to keep on sneering at him. And yet? I want him to be okay. I want him to find love. I want him to be loved. Gods, that boy, MAGGIE WHY. I also was not prepared for the amount of Ronan & Declan time and how little punching those scenes would involve, but I am here for it. I want more Lynch brothers road trips. Heck, I just want more Lynch brothers period, and I think we’re definitely going to get that. Also, just briefly, MATTHEW MY BOY I LOVE YOU.
Hook: The Lynch brothers have a secret–one is a dreamer, one is a dream, and one is something much more complicated.
Winterwood | Shea Ernshaw (11/8-11/14): If you’re looking for a chilly, wintry read, look no further. I couldn’t get warm while reading this, and I mean that in the best way possible. The language used to describe the woods and the winter actually made me want to go out walking in the woods at night while it was cold (spoiler: I did). The characters were written in a way that left them feeling ghostly and fragile, like snow at midnight. It was full of magic and hope, buried beneath shadows, and I loved every single page of it.
Hook: A witch finds a boy in the magical woods surrounding the lake, but she doesn’t realize the chaos that will unfold when she brings him back to her home.
The Fall of Gondolin | JRR Tolkien (11/4-11/6): My full review of the Great Tales of the Elder Days is finally up! This includes The Children of Húrin & Beren and Lúthien, and I’ve also linked their individual reviews. This was about the same as Beren and Lúthien–very enjoyable to read the full version and to see Christopher’s discussion on the different versions of it. There’s an entire prequel to the actual tale of Gondolin that’s not included in The Silmarillion that we’re given in this, which was super exciting to get to read. I now have even more love for Morgoth and useless LOTR knowledge, and it just continues to make me happy. I’m glad to be done with this trilogy, though, as a lot of it was repetitive and I’ll admit I did some skimming through the different versions of each story, particularly in this one, since it was just minor changes here and there. Still, definitely an interesting read!
Hook: After 50 pages of gentle meandering along the coast, Tolkien spends 3 pages detailing everyone’s outfits, and then 12 pages giving excruciating detail of every minute aspect of a battle, and somehow, I still ended up liking the bad guy.
Hex Life | Various Authors (11/4-11/13): This was really excellent. I enjoyed some of the stories in here immensely, and the only reason this gets four instead of five is because some of them were just totally lost on me. There were a few that were part of a larger universe, and it was odd to see them in an anthology. I was able to follow some of them, but one of them just totally went over my head without the context. Some of them were very short, and I couldn’t connect with them, and others were just confusing. But there were definitely some stand-outs that I’m still thinking about. The writing was really varied, but with divine feminine power threaded throughout each. I also really enjoyed that the witches were not always the heroes. It was very refreshing to see such a diverse cast of witches. My favorites were Widows’ Walk, Black Magic Momma, The Night Nurse, The Memories of Trees, Home, The Deer Wife, and How to Become a Witch-Queen.
Hook: Every woman deserves to have her story told, whether her magic looks like angry baking or cauldron-stirring.
Books read: 7
Pages read: 2,275
Avery @ Red Rocket Panda compiled a list of favorite themes & features in science fiction, and it’s truly spot on for all of the reasons this is one of my favorite genres, as well!
Anna & Charlotte @ Reads Rainbow have created a LGBT+ Alternative Choice Awards in response to the very slim pickings on the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards, so make sure you cast your vote! And find out about a bunch of awesome LGBT+ 2019 releases along the way!
Kal @ Reader Voracious also created their own awards–Bookish Reader’s Choice Awards! This is in an effort for us, the readers, to nominate our favorites instead of just leaving it up to marketing and hype, and it’s such a lovely idea, so make sure to go nominate your faves!
Margaret @ Weird Zeal has been discussing YA for a few posts now, and this one is definitely one of my favorites because it breaks down what YA is/should be and how it looks with books like Call Down the Hawk, which though are a spin-off of a YA series, don’t read like YA.
ICYMI, I posted two weekly updates for NaNoWriMo (here & here), and I am absolutely killing it! I’ve officially reached my halfway goal, and I’m hoping to continue strong for the last two weeks. I’ve also been actually feeling the want to write, too, which was something I’d missed desperately, and I’m so glad to have it back.
What I’ve Been Watching!
While I was in Maine, I watched Mother!, which I remembered Erin shouting about, but we had very different reactions to it. She came away with a lot of despair, and I reached that point of absolute fury where you just start uncontrollably crying. This movie fucked me up. It brought me right back to 13-year-old Mary and why I left the church in the first place, and while it was an incredible masterpiece, I don’t want to discuss it, and I never want to watch it again.
Alright, so I was not going to bed after watching Mother!, and I needed something to calm me down, so Erin put on the new youresoloud, which quickly devolved into us watching literally everything she’s created. These are fantastic because they’re funny regardless of whether or not you’re a GMM fan (obviously, they’re funnier if you are), and it was the perfect way to bottle up those harmful feelings and just cover it with a hat of stupid boys.
The morning after we watched Mother!, I was still feeling very angry and emotionally exhausted, so while Erin painted my nails, we watched the new mini season of Queer Eye! These Japan episodes were absolutely adorable, and I definitely cried a couple times when Antoni did because I cannot handle it when he cries. This was everything that I needed.
Man, it has been a busy first half of the month! At first, I had no idea what to put in this section, but that’s because I’ve been doing so much, it feels like it all happened much longer ago. I went up to Maine the day after Halloween to spend some time with Erin, and thank goodness for that because it snowed the next weekend! We went book shopping twice, we ate a lot of good food, and we had a lot of downtime to just snuggle and catch up. I won’t get to see her for a while longer now, so I was really happy to have a few days.
Call Down the Hawk came out, which is not just my most anticipated book of the year, but my most anticipated of the last three years, and I’m so excited to have it in my possession. The doodled artwork is gorgeous, and so worth the wait of not getting it until Friday when everyone around me started it on Tuesday. It 100% surpassed my expectations, and I feel blessed with it.
I’ve been reconnecting with my Portuguese roots lately, and discovered that I’m only third generation, which apparently everyone but me knew. My great grandfather came over on a ship from Portugal, but he was so embarrassed about being Portuguese that he refused to speak it around his kids, so my nana never learned it, which meant my mom and me also don’t, and I’m pretty sad about that. I’m kind of toying with the idea of learning it on my own. I already have building blocks of Italian and French, so it would be similar. But, I decided that I wanted to try some Portuguese recipes, and I got it in my head that I was going to try sweet bread, and I DID IT!
Look at my little carb child, I’m so proud! It was absolutely delicious, too, and so now I’m obsessed with making bread. I kneaded it by hand because a few
LOL A FEW THERE’S SO MANY of my characters bake, and some of them make bread, as well, so I wanted to have the full experience, and what do ya know, I freaking loved it. This was my trial run before Thanksgiving to make sure I was actually capable of making it, so fingers crossed all goes well for Thanksgiving, too!
And lastly, this past week. I went for a moonlight six-mile walk through the woods/swamp with Bethany, and it was everything I needed. I got a little cold-burn on my cheeks, and my toes were frozen by the end, but it was perfect. I also got all dolled up for the Yoga for Families of Addiction second annual gala, and Jenna was able to come with me!
I am a certified YFFA teacher, but my life is chaotic, and between my full-time job and five classes I’m already teaching, I’m not able to currently take on anymore, but the work is so necessary, and I’m so grateful to Jenny for creating this nonprofit. I got to see some of my fellow teachers, too, whom I don’t usually cross paths with because we all teach at different times and have such conflicting schedules, so it was really fun to catch up with all of them.
And those shoes. Don’t even get me started.
I listened to Camila Cabello for an hour straight while I was getting ready, so I’m leaving you with one last thing.