This was another difficult month mentally, so my reading & writing suffered for the first half, and then I definitely felt an uptick in mood about halfway through the month, so that’s probably reflected below, but still. This whole being a person thing is just really hard sometimes.
Mini Book Reviews
Seven Endless Forests | April Genevieve Tucholke
Hell, this was good. I love this universe that Tucholke has created so much, and I just want to dive into this little Norse dreamscape, find a band of women warriors to follow, and never come back. Like, can this be my Neverland? You definitely don’t need to read The Boneless Mercies, which is an all-women Beowulf retelling, but uh, from that description alone, you definitely should, and also, this book, which is an all-women King Arthur retelling (dreams do come true, guys), is set in the future and references some of the events from Mercies. Trying to piece together the Arthurian legend was a heck ton of fun, though, because it wasn’t cut and dry, and that made it even more interesting. I absolutely adored the characters, the plot was phenomenal, and I really, really hope that Tucholke writes another story in this world. There are so many possibilities for retellings that I would love, so I’m down for whatever she’s got cooking.
Seasons of Moon and Flame: The Wild Dreamer’s Epic Journey to Becoming | Danielle Dulsky
I’m really enjoying the overall arc that Dulsky seems to be taking with these books. I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but Woman Most Wild was a very basic, introductory, here’s an outline of my beliefs type of journey; The Holy Wild was dug much more deeply into the specific archetypes of our fierce women ancestors, as well as broke down the elements; and Seasons of Moon and Flame is looking at actual practice, physical witchcraft and ritual. Dulsky is a badass, so that probably is intentional, but I really, really respect that arc a lot, walking us through the journey from newborn interest to actual practice over the course of several books. Seasons was no exception to my undying love for Dulsky’s work, either. This was truly a fantastic book, and I wish that I could have convinced myself to read it over the year, taking each season when it came. I’ll be coming back to the practices and rituals in this a lot as the year carries on, bringing them to my own coven, and watching my practice flourish under Dulsky’s careful tutelage.
The Babysitter’s Coven | Kate Williams
(5/1-5/3) | ★★★★
Okay, real talk, I was about three pages in when I knew that I was absolutely going to love this book. This was what I wanted out of These Witches Don’t Burn and didn’t get, and I am so, so happy this book exists. It really reads like b-roll campy 80s horror comedy, and it’s amazing. I loved the characters so much, particularly that they were each so individual. Even the side characters, which drift in and out of the narrative as Esme figures out her new life, have really solid personalities, and I found myself interested in all of them. The plot was fantastic and ridiculous in an excellent way. Seriously, when we were suddenly thrown headlong into this crazy underground witch world of lore, I basically turned into a cheerleader. I’ve got the sequel preordered, and I can’t wait.
Circle of Shadows | Evelyn Skye
This was so good! The magic system was so unique, which I really appreciated, because I feel like we just see the same old thing regurgitated in different ways, but this left me guessing what would happen next. I loved the characters, especially Fairy and Broomstick. They’re my favorite kind of side characters–witty in the face of danger, willing to risk it all to save their friends, and always underestimated, but shows everyone up because they’re secretly badasses. The plot was very intriguing, if a little predictable, and I’m eager to see what happens in the next one!
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by JRR Tolkien & Sellic Spell
This was an absolute delight! My full review is linked here, but overall, I really enjoyed this. Tolkien provided a few different versions of his translation of Beowulf, and while I loved the straightforward one, my favorite was his Sellic Spell version of it. I also enjoyed perusing his commentary on Beowulf itself, plus the struggles he faced while translating. Overall, an excellent read that just continued to bolster my love for this nerd.
Shadow of Night | Deborah Harkness
I’m having so much trouble with this review. I liked this book quite a bit. I really enjoyed being in Elizabethan England, I was practically on the floor over Kit Marlowe & Walter Raleigh, and I was over the moon when Queen Elizabeth actually became a character with more than just a couple lines. I should probably write a longer review once I finish this series about why this got three stars, but the tl;dr it is that these are super misogynistic. Like, it’s kind of gross. And I’m not really sure why considering they were written in the 21st century. Why are we still treating women like they’re possessions to be owned? Matthew’s behavior in this book is most of the reason why this got three stars. He’s really turned into a character that I don’t particularly like, and I can’t really understand why Diana is still with him. He’s abusive, manipulative, and predatory. On the flip side, though, Diana is also a large part of why this got three stars. She turned into a wicked damsel in distress in this book. She already kind of was, but it was way more apparent, and it was really disheartening. She has so much potential to be a powerful woman that could command armies. She reminds me of Philippe in a lot of ways (oh hell did I cry about him a lot), but instead, she just lets Matthew cart her around the 1590s and do with her what he will. I appreciate that she stood up to him a lot, but she also was pretty wishy washy about that. I don’t know. These books are enjoyable if you can ignore those parts, but they also really bum me out. I’m going to read the third book, but I also definitely prefer the TV adaptation over the book. Yeah, I’m going to write a longer review about this once I read the third book. Stay tuned.
The Fascinators | Andrew Eliopulos
There was nothing inherently wrong with this book, it was just fine. The romance was cute, but also felt really weird at times, and it went from, like, maybe being a thing to full blown love in the last chapter. I can’t even remember their names now, but the new kid deserved better than the MC. The magic system was really not explained at all, and I was confused most of the time trying to follow it. It just sort of kept happening, and it also felt very much like the story could have existed without magic. And, here’s the thing. If magic doesn’t really effect your story all that much, it probably doesn’t belong in there. It just felt so separated from everything else that was happening, and, in the end, I still have literally no idea the structure of the magic system. Overall, though, the writing was decent, the characters were interesting enough that I kept reading, and I’m not going to unhaul it anytime soon. I enjoyed it, just didn’t love it.
A Spark of White Fire | Sangu Mandanna
Why is incest still a thing? I just don’t get it. And yeah, sure, the two characters are step-cousins, but like? I literally thought that Max was going to turn out to be a god or something reincarnated since it was really leaning that way (“there’s only so much the human brain can remember” I MEAN COME ON), and I could have gotten behind the relationship a little more, but nope, they’re just still step-cousins and weirdly in love. And who knows, maybe he will turn out to be a god/reincarnated being in the sequel I’m not going to read, but as I’m not going to read it, I’m in this world where the book ended with step-cousins making out, and it’s gross. Even if we take away the incest, their relationship literally comes out of nowhere. It was the most bizarre case of instalove I’ve ever read. Their friendship was developing so nicely, and then suddenly they were making out and whatsherface was ready to kill the brother she’d sworn her entire life to protect just to protect Max. EW. Esmae! I hate first person, I can never remember what the MC’s name is. These two things aside, this was another case of just fine. The writing was okay. It really wasn’t anything special. It reminded me a lot of the eighteen million drafts I wrote for my first novel for twelve straight years that I eventually abandoned, and that should say it all. It was just so full of plot and dialogue with no description or development, and it was honestly kind of a mess sometimes. The characters were fine. Alexi flips between sweet and total rage so often, I was convinced that he was lying the entire book. I never trusted him. All of the characters were very caricature-like. I don’t know. This was a fine book, if you’re into incest and six-week time jumps for no reason.
Books read: 8
Pages read: 3,141
Backlist progress: 24/80
Look, I’m going to die this month with two very anticipated releases AND I’m approaching the end of writing my book, which is also a series finale, so I’m going to just set THE BEST TBR EVER BECAUSE HAPPY FUCKING PRIDE Y’ALL.
I’m not even lying when I say I’m almost guaranteed to rewatch Sense8 this month. I miss it, and I need that perfection in my life again. Anyway, this TBR is ridiculous, it’s a million books long, there’s also movies because why the hell not. I’m also linking it because I made a whole separate post for it!
hiiiiiiii another month, another failing at my reading goals but completely smashing everything else out of the park!!!!!
In case you forgot, here were my May goals:
- Complete a Duolingo lesson every day!
- Read 50 pages a day.
- Finish the second act of SW3 & get halfway through the third act. (~30k words)
I rock, and I did complete a Duolingo goal every day! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I’m currently learning Portuguese. I won’t go into all of the why because I’m going to write a post about it, but basically, I’m third generation Portuguese, but my great-grandfather was embarrassed and refused to speak Portuguese to his children, so none of my family knows it. I also did not read 50 pages every day. UGH. I’m trying not to be mad about this because, like last month, the two days that I didn’t read were days that I wrote a lot. One day, in particular, I wrote a major character death, and it was the worst, I had to watch gay Youtube to make myself happy after I literally cried while writing. (Wow, that hasn’t happened in forever.) Annnnd, we’ll talk more about the third goal below, BUT I’M CRUSHING ACT THREE!
Okay, legitimately, my June goals are the same. I still want to complete a lesson every day, still want to read 50 pages a day (which I better with that freaking TBR, jfc), and the last one is just changed up to be, are you ready, drumroll, FINISH SISTER WITCHES 3. Hell, that’s terrifying. Because I’m so close to the end, too, I’m adding one last goal for June, and that is to start editing SW1, and as soon as I get to the 50 page mark, I have to start querying, too. Why? Because I’m supposed to be halfway done with vampire detective by September, and I am behind schedule, so we need to kick it into high gear. Also, I’ve just been sitting on sister witches for a full two years almost now, and I have the entire trilogy almost written, so what could I possibly be waiting for.
Charlotte @ Reads Rainbow compiled a list of all the sapphic releases this year because they’re the best person ever, and the first part includes releases from January-June!
Jenna @ Falling Letters dropped a list of 35 (thirty-five!!!!!) of their favorite middle grade fantasy books, and I am LIVING. I have so many books to read now.
CG @ Paper Fury discussed things they want to see more in books regarding mental health rep, and I am here for this list. I’ve tried to make mental health such an intricate part of my own books so that you can’t just magic it away, and it’s so, so important to see that kind of rep everywhere and in all genres!
Wow, this was a month. I probably wrote three times in the first two weeks. My reading was also suffering, and I just didn’t want to do anything but nothing. I didn’t even really want to watch things, I just wanted to lie on the floor and give up. Melodramatically, don’t worry, you don’t have to be nervous for me. And then I had a good, long chat with my friends about how I was procrastinating the end of this book because it was the last time I was ever going to see these characters, and they told me to stop whining and just do it, so you know what. I did it. It’s not quite finished, but I’ve gotten through all the really emotional bits, and I wrote more than I set out to write this month, so I’d say it was a roaring success. I’ve got so very little left to write, which is scary, but yeah, this is wrapping up in June. Grand total was 35,945 words, and damn, most of that was written in two weeks.
And, in case you weren’t paying attention, I did quite a bit of talking about writing this month. Right at the beginning, we chatted about using other people’s characters, and what my Greek mythology retelling thing looks like in that context. And though technically it was the first of June, this post is coming out after it, so I’m still going to toot my own horn about it–I also talked about what it’s been like approaching the end of my trilogy. Finishing books is hard, but especially when you’re never going to return to that world.
What I’ve Been Watching!
For Beltane, I met with my witches to light so many candles, read tarot, and watch The Witch. For a solid portion, I was like, “okay this is very Jesus-y, what are we doing,” AND THEN THAT ENDING. My dudes, five stars for the ending. Holy moly. I’m still in absolute awe of it, it just destroyed me, my face was hilarious, Erin kept going “I KNOW” like that dude in Cloud Atlas, I’m just so happy.
Gosh, ‘night, Mother tried to kill me. It’s one of those movies that had those big, deep breaths while you cry, and everything is really quite because, otherwise, it’s just going to be an absolute mess. Erin & I have been doing weekly movie nights, which has just been so wonderful while in isolation and not being able to see each other (which we would have done twice by now), and she said this is the quietest she’s ever seen me during a movie. Gosh, it was hard. It was so, so good, but my goodness, did it absolutely break my heart. I’m going to be thinking about it for a long time after, and it’s probably up there with one of my favorite movies, and, hell, if we ever get the chance to see this live as a play, we’re going to. But yeah, you have to be really prepared for this going in.
Y’all, the fucking reversed Jesus scene, holy shit. I nearly threw my laptop on the ground, that’s how fast I sat up. I shouted NO WAY so loud that both of my cats jerked awake. It was terrible for all, and I loved season two of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina so much. Nicholas Scratch absolutely stole my heart, I was so excited to see Lucifer on screen, and ugh Sabrina. I know this show is ridiculous, and honestly? That makes me love it even more.
Well, I did it, I finally watched Joker despite truly giving up hope that anyone could ever do it again. When we were talking about it, my brother & dad conveniently forgot that Jared Leto had ever even attempted it, and I had a good chuckle before we even got into the movie. I honestly didn’t think it was as disturbing as everyone made it out to be. It really fit his character well, and I like that it’s standing separate from the rest of the DC Universe (mostly, though I did appreciate that baby Bruce nod). Overall, a very well done adaptation.
I know I’ve said it somewhere in here, but Erin & I have been doing weekly movie nights because we miss each other SO DAMN MUCH (seriously, when we finally get to see each other again, it’s going to be gross), and she pitched this movie as “it made me cry out of pure joy” and like? Okay, sold. So Troop Zero was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and I’m gonna need y’all to get on watching this as soon as possible. I loved every single damn character, the plot was amazing, Viola Davis broke my heart, THE INCLUSION, THE FAMILY DYNAMICS, DON’T EVEN START WITH ME ON THE PARALLELS TO STRANGE BIRDS, MY HEART CANNOT TAKE IT.
Wow, why was this the first time I’m seeing Puffs? My face hurt by the end, that’s how much I was smiling. This was exactly what I needed when we watched it, and I’m so glad that we wrapped up our movies before Pride with this. It’s such a feel good movie that also calls out so many harmful things about the HP universe, and I just? Thank you. Thank you for existing. This was so, so wonderful.
I think it would be remiss of me not to also note that I’ve been watching a lot of the Rolum Diaries. Every time my day starts to derail even a little it, I just put on one of them, and everything’s better again. I absolutely cannot watch Roly’s piercing videos (trust me, I’ve tried, I just can’t handle watching piercings happen, I closed my eyes for both sides of my nose), but every single video with Calum is an international treasure.
I did a lot of yoga this month. I’m really embracing the #yogaeverydamnday hashtag way more than I ever had before. I don’t always practice on the weekends, but it’s been pretty much a five-day thing lately, and I’m so happy. Yoga is something that’s always brought me a lot of peace and joy, and to have it to turn to during this time has been a true life saver. I figured out how to shift from wild thing to wheel a couple years back, but I’ve been practicing it more frequently now, and my current struggle is
figuring out how to get back to wild thing instead of just collapsing in a heap on the ground and rolling over.
I DRAFTED THIS POST AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH
AND GUESS WHO FIGURED THIS OUT
I am literally so fucking stoked, WHAT.
I’ve also been doing a ton of baking & cooking, so here you go!
Those macarons were insane. Honest to Satan, they tasted like cinnamon toast crunch, I am a genius. I’ve been trying out a lot of new vegetarian recipes, too, so I made roasted pepper caulifower soup. It was roasted red pepper, but I don’t like red, so I roasted some orange and called it a day. Also, I’m never using milk or cream again? First it was the cashew cream for a mushroom barley soup and now it’s pureed cauliflower, and both of those are the literal perfect substitutes? I am shooketh.
I also made crackers! They were super easy, and I seasoned them with rosemary, thyme, and sage, drizzled them in olive oil, and sprinkled them with salt, and honestly? Damn. I dreamed about double dark chocolate brownies for about three weeks straight before finally caving and just making them. And that Cajun Jambalaya? Um, excuse me? Ma’am? Please call 911, I am on the floor. It’s not vegetarian because it’s got shrimp (I’m working on cutting fish out of my diet, give me some time!), but I did use soy chorizo, which could have sustained this entire dish on its own, it was amazing, and I put in red kidney & pinto beans, so honestly, you could just nix the shrimp, and it’d be fine.
Also also, because I’ve been doing so much baking/cooking, I’ve linked all of the recipes I’ve used. I just find them on Pinterest, but let me know if you give them a whirl or have any questions about the subs I made!