Wow, I had big plans for these last two weeks because I quit my job and was going to have a ton of free time, but then I got pretty sick and just crawled into bed for several days and did nothing but watch YouTube. And ICYMI from this morning, here is my Top 10 Reads of 2019!
Mini Book Reviews
There Will Come a Darkness | Katy Rose Pool (12/11-12/18): The week I spent reading this book was probably one of the most trying weeks in recent memory, and it definitely affected my beginning reception of it, but as I look back, objectively, I can see that if I’d read this at the correct time in my life, when everything wasn’t falling apart, it would be, hands down, a five-star book. Even now, as I come to the end, I know it’s a five-star book for me. It’s got everything that I love in it–broken, sad boys running from their past, soft boys trying to live up to big expectations, crazy intense lore, lots of discussion about the morals of religion, character-driven writing, and Greek-inspired mythos. And all of those things that I love are fantastically written in a way that had me preordering only halfway through. This was an absolute pleasure to read, and honestly, I think it speaks volumes that it was able to shove through the dark cloud following me this week and still be something I enjoyed immensely.
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth | JRR Tolkien (12/1-12/20): My long review for this is here. Obviously, I enjoyed this immensely. It wasn’t quite The Silmarillion for me because there were a couple stories in here that were repeats for me, but the new ones were phenomenal, and I continue to be amazed by Tolkien’s sheer genius. It was also really interesting to go through Christopher’s notes for everything, to see how he pieced it all together. That, and learning about Gandalf’s past just about murdered me.
The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek | Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal (12/21-12/30): Okay, realistically, is this good? Not really. If you’re not a fan of Good Mythical Morning and picked up this book, you’d probably put it down again pretty quickly. Truly, this book is like if you took this:
and allowed it to go further. This is strange, it made me laugh, I kept forgetting that the characters names were supposed to be Rex and Leif, and continuing with the book was near impossible because every chapter made me want to go cackle over a GMM episode.
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again | JRR Tolkien (12/25-1/1): My longer review for this will be posted in the New Year, so keep an eye out! Every time I start to read this, I think it’s going to be the best adventure ever, and while a solid chunk of it is, a solid chunk also isn’t. The middle just bores me to tears every single time. Still, this is a really fun intermission between The Silmarillion and the LOTR trilogy, and I love being able to see the dwarves since neither book really spends a lot of time with them.
Children of Vice and Virtue | Tomi Adeyemi (12/20-12/31): My review for Children of Blood and Bone is linked. My enjoyment of this was 100% challenged by the fact that I was hella sick while reading it. I also struggled hardcore to remember literally anything from the first book, and so those combined things meant this took me a while to read. And I really wanted to love this, but man, it was difficult for a whole slew of other reasons besides those. Those extra 100-200 pages I didn’t want in COBAB? Yeah, I wanted them in this. Each chapter is about 2-4 pages, which means everything happens so quickly. And not only are the chapters short, but there’s a TON of white space in each one because there are all these fragmented sentences set as their own paragraphs. So much happens in so little space, and I was often confused or didn’t care because I just didn’t have enough information. I felt like all of the characters regressed a lot in their development from the first book, or like they couldn’t make up their mind and just flip flopped wildly all the time. The love interests were boring and overdramatic, I really don’t care about Inan because he’s wishy washy and annoying, and I’m not sure I’m going to read the next book.
Books read: 10
Pages read: 4,075
I’m going to try to be really gentle with myself for January. I’m starting a new job on Thursday, and as you’ll read below, a lot of my reading has happened at work, and that’s no longer an option with this new (and very exciting!!!) position, so my January TBR is going to be very lowkey. You’ll also notice a few repeats here because I want to clear out my 2019 TBR, but don’t want to overwhelm myself, either:
- Nocturna by Maya Motayne
- Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
- An Encantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
- The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien
- JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
Only five, and these are the ones I’m specifically going to focus on. The two Tolkien’s, I wouldn’t normally include in a monthly TBR list, but I’ve got to read them for blogging purposes and don’t want to feel like I’m failing my TBR if I focus on those and ignore something else. I do have a list of preorders to still get to, and while I’m going to drop those below, they’re not officially part of my TBR:
- Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake
- Salvaged by Madeleine Roux
- Spellhacker by MK England
- Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore
Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites spilled some tea on why she thinks tropes aren’t as bad as we make them out to be sometimes, and I would just like to second all of the above.
Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books talks about why you shouldn’t rush to read books just so you can keep up with the hype or achieve something like the Goodreads challenge. It took me a long time to understand reading for fun, and it’s so good to get back to the fundamentals of why I love reading in the first place. She also reviewed The Cruel Prince, and while I five-starred both of the second books in the series, I had very similar feelings as Marie, which was really relieving to see!
Vanessa @ The Wolf and Books talked about all the reasons they love romance books as someone who doesn’t read romance a lot, and I’ve got to echo every single one of those points! But especially that it’s a really nice break from the intensity of high fantasy sometimes!
Anna & Charlotte @ Reads Rainbow are literally a constant blessing, but they just dropped twelve of their highly anticipated releases from January-June, so I just added twelve books to my TBR.
Margaret @ Weird Zeal also talked about 50+ (PLUS) anticipated releases for the entirety of 2020, and my TBR is literally about to die.
I guess that’s not necessarily true. I have written a little. I wrote a short story for a collection that I submitted to, and I’ve been thinking a lot about sister witches, but man, the end of the year kicked my ass. So much for trying to finish my book before 2020 struck.
What I’ve Been Watching!
I finished out season one of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! I’m honestly loving this show a ton. It’s the perfect mood for the book I’m currently writing, it’s stupidly campy and B-roll sometimes (which I’m always a fan of), and I mean, come on, I already love Riverdale, it shouldn’t be a surprise this is a big hit for me.
I have watched a lot of GMM lately. My mom got the flu, and while I didn’t, I did have a fever and a pretty bad cough, so I was taking preemptive flu meds, and I’ve been pretty knocked out because of all of it. Like most people, I hate doing pretty much anything while sick, including reading, so I honestly put these whacko boys on for a couple hours each day and just curled up in bed with them. Also literally never getting over the Orbeez GMMore.
The most defeating thing in the world is when you’re already paying more money for high quality lenses because you’re fucking blind, and Warby Parker emails you to go, “We know you’re already paying more, but you’re really fucking blind, so we have these other, more expensive lenses, that will help make your glasses not the bulkiest fucking things on the planet.” Do you know, they recommend their more expensive lenses (which are only an extra $30, so really not that bad) for anyone that has a -4 or higher prescription, which is already just a batshit prescription, but for those lucky folks like me, with our -8.25, we need to shell out an extra $130. I’m not mad at Warby in the slightest (spoiler: I love Warby Parker, they make it possible for me to wear cute glasses when I have been told my ENTIRE LIFE that I can’t have anything but sturdy, clunky, ugly frames because my prescription is so bad), I’m mad at the fact that I’m almost legally blind and my insurance could not give two shits. I’m not eligible for Lasik because they would have to cut away my entire cornea, and it still wouldn’t fix my vision by half. And I’m not recommended for Visian because my vision is still getting worse every year, and I would need to go in for a second surgery before most people even get their first cataract surgery. And on top of all that, health insurance doesn’t cover corrective surgery for vision impairment. Why not? Because it’s considered a fucking cosmetic surgery. Is this me throwing myself a pity party right now? You fucking bet.
But hey, I’ve got new glasses.
(Sidenote: my head is the size of a watermelon, and my nose is just as big, so not only do I have to get the most expensive lenses, I also only have the option of FOUR goddamn frames because I need an extra wide. I AM SO BITTER, IT’S PRACTICALLY COME OUT OF MY PORES.)
It has seriously been the most hectic two weeks of my life. I quit my job, which was terrifying, but thankfully, I had another job lined up. I start in two days, and I’m nervous, but excited! Because of that, I’ve been rearranging how I’m going to blog/write/read. The cat’s finally out of the bag–I read 172 books this year because a lot of that happened at work. My job was very lowkey, didn’t stimulate or challenge me, and didn’t really keep me busy, so I was able to be productive in a lot of other ways. This new job is not like that, which I’m over the moon about, but that means I’ve got to figure out a schedule. I have big plans coming up for January (stay tuned, the announcement goes live in a couple days!), and beyond that, I’d like to have something of a regular schedule, so I’ll now be pre-writing posts on the weekend to post all week, blog hopping at night before bed, and reading/writing during literally any free time that I have. I’m going to take January as it comes, but I foresee a switch back to just monthly wrap-ups instead of bi-weeklys since I probably won’t be reading 15 books a month anymore. I’m dropping my Goodreads goal this year, but sticking with my writing plan, so fingers crossed it all works out!
I’ve also been baking a ton. I already talked before about how I was starting to get into baking bread, but I tried chocolate babka with a dusted powdered sugar (above) for a few of my friend Christmas presents, and then challah (left) for my best friend’s Chanukah gift. I also made cinnamon bread for Christmas morning, and I had plans to make twisted star bread for Christmas Eve, but our plans got cancelled due to my mom getting the flu.
I also finally (!!!) succumbed to my brother’s constant begging and went rock climbing for the first time ever! I totally crushed a route that had defeated me when we first got there, and I had so much fun. It was really great to be able to bond with my brother over something that he loves so much, and we just had such a fun time.
Other than all that, which is honestly a lot now that I look back at it, it’s been pretty quiet. I’ve been spending a lot of time at home, both recuperating from being sick and just detoxing from my previous work environment so I’m ready for my new one. I’ve got New Year’s Eve plans with Jen, as always–we’re making gourmet grilled cheese and watching Harry Potter while we start some wedding stuff for her. We’ve been doing this same night (minus the wedding stuff) for the past four or so years, and I look forward to it every year.
Like I said somewhere above in this very rambly post, I’ve got a ton of plans for January on the blog. Things to look forward to:
- an ENTIRE month of themed posts that will have an official announcement on Friday
- very high likelihood of returning to monthly, instead of biweekly, wrap-up posts
- an actual schedule, oh man
- lots of discussion posts and writing updates!
It’s gonna be a hella good year, guys, and I absolutely can’t wait. Top 10 of the year is live tomorrow, and 2020 goals are coming at you on Wednesday, so keep an eye out for those. And, until then–