It wasn’t a great month, but it wasn’t a terrible one, either. ICYMI, I’m taking a break for the month of August. I’ll still be blog hopping and present in the community, but I won’t be posting anything. I’m hoping to settle into a rhythm with reading again because, while I did finally get my wind back toward the end of the month, it was a struggle for a few weeks. All told, I need some time off from a lot of things–if someone wants to put me up in a cabin in the woods with no access to Wifi and no neighbors in sight, por favor e obrigado–and I hope that this break will be just the thing that I need.

Mini Book Reviews

Legend
🌈 LGBTQPIA+ characters
🔥 BIPOC authors
🌑 BIPOC characters

These Violent Delights | Chloe Gong 🌈🔥🌑
(7/6-7/13) ★★★★★

What a wild ride this was. It was hilarious, toward the end, because I know how it’s going to end, right, we all do, but I was still absolutely shrieking when the chaotic parts of Romeo & Juliet were being carried out. And hold up, can we just talk about this concept for a second? I loved telling people what this book was about while I was reading because Romeo & Juliet retold in 1920s Shanghai in a way that involved rival gangs and a river monster? I mean, hell and yes. And wow, but Gong just really freaking delivered in ways I didn’t even expect. This was phenomenal. I preordered the sequel at around 70 pages, and I’m the most predictable person ever because I was ready to throw down for Marshall, and I am also so turn about how I want Our Violent Ends to close because R&J should die, but like??? 10/10 would like Roma & Juliette to live happily ever after and be the respective king & queen of their gangs, thanks very much. I was not ready to be wrecked by this book, but I am so ready to be wrecked by the sequel now.

Any Way the Wind Blows | Rainbow Rowell 🌈
(7/20-7/23) ★★★★★

Wow, this might have saved my entire month. I know I’ve said it a million times everywhere, but June really crushed my desire to read after I disliked pretty much everything I read, and though I was excited to start fresh in July and get back to fantasy, I read about three books in the first three weeks, which is just very unlike me, and I was starting to panic a little. I thought it might be good to pick up this finale because I knew it would be a little more casual than everything else I was reading, and it would hopefully still have a fanfiction vibe that would just set me at ease, and wow. Holy wow. I somehow always manage to forget how much I love these books? Like, I was just absolutely losing my mind while reading, and I kept texting my friend, with way more emphasis than was necessary given we’ve both read and loved these, about HOW DAMN GOOD it was. This was such a perfect conclusion to this wacky series. Plot, characters, romantically–everything was perfect. I am absolutely delighted by this book, and I’d like to thank Simon & Baz for single-handedly saving me from dragging my feet through several books for an indeterminate amount of time. I am now ready to read all the things again.

The Ghosts We Keep | Mason Deaver 🌈
(7/24-7/26) ★★★★★

Though this didn’t quite devastate me the way I Wish You All the Best did, it still hit me hard, and wow. Wow. Dear Mason Deaver, are you accepting hugs? Because I’d like to give you solid it’s going to be okay but it’s also okay if it’s not hug. This was so painful, and it was so beautifully written. I honestly feel like it would be a very comforting book to have in the midst of a monumental loss like this, or, really, any loss. To be able to see someone else going through that grief in such a messy way–because grief is messy–just feels not only realistic, but feels like it would settle everything a little and make the storm calmer. I’m also just so damn proud of Liam for how he finally saw the way his friends were treating him and not only stood up for himself, but refused to any longer be an afterthought. Deaver recently described Liam as an unlikeable character, and while he does break a lot of things, I love him wholeheartedly, and I feel for him in a way that’s going to stand out for a while.

Queen of Air and Darkness | Cassandra Clare 🌈
(6/29-7/11) ★★★★

This book was a weird one for me. Obviously, given that I four-starred it, I enjoyed it, and I really did! I was crying by the end, and I kept shouting during the last 300 or so pages. But it was also very repetitive. I knew this going in, too, and I’ve often commented on how I’m aware that Clare is just reusing old plots & characters, but wow, not only did this one do that, but to a whole other level. Emma & Julian were just a carbon copy of Clary & Jace in this one, and while I was having a good time, once we got to Thule, my motivation to read this tanked big time, as is probably evidenced by how long this ended up taking me to read. It’s strange, too, because though this book is 870 pages long, the last 300 felt insanely rushed. I would have much rather preferred if any of the Thule nonsense just didn’t exist, let the Iron Sisters reforge the Mortal Sword, get rid of Julian’s weird emotion spell, and just streamline the hell out of the beginning. The first 400 pages was so long, and while I enjoyed everything there, there was a lot that felt more unnecessary than usual. I’m not even advocating for less than 870 pages, keep the page amount, but pay more attention to the second 400 pages. Things just flew by! All of a sudden the necromancy spell was happening, and then it was over. Sebastian was randomly back (via Thule), and it was TMI all over again, and then it was done. Bam, we’re at war with literally everyone, but wait, Kit is the descendant of the First Heir, just kidding he’s gone now! Oh, and let’s talk about Nephilim Julian & Emma for a second because I had a Moment when one of them flung Jace across the field, and I was just like now hold up I’m going to stop reading this series entirely if Jace dies. And that ending! Why! Do something new! Stop coming after Clary! Whatever Clare writes next in this universe in this time period is literally going to be the second half of TMI all over again, and I don’t want it. I feel like this review has gotten away from me. I did really enjoy this! The Blackthorns basically made me cry every 200 pages, my heart was constantly breaking for Dru, and holy shit, Cassandra Clare really heard us say we wanted an actual love triangle, not a weird V line, and gave us a poly relationship, I am so pleased. Admittedly, I am really bummed about the way that Kit & Ty ended up, particularly because the fandom has led me to believe entirely other things, but I’m also really proud of Kit, and I’m assuming that we’ll get to see more of their relationship in whatever books Clare writes next. This review is insanely long, which feels fitting given the book’s length, and while it did frustrate me a lot in places, it also reminded me so firmly why I love this universe in big, person-shaping ways.

The Queen Will Betray You | Sarah Henning
(7/14-7/19) ★★★★

Goodness, talk about the definition of turning off your brain to read something purely for enjoyment. This could have used about 100 more pages of solid world building and exposition, but even without it, I had a great time with this. I’ve been struggling with reading this month, and this was such a good book to read during that. It was familiar characters occasionally dropping lines from the original that made me shriek, and the way Henning plot twisted the Wesley role for Taillefer just had me hollering with delight. There was some fun political intrigue in this, a lot of not using character’s names and instead their descriptors, and Luca’s shoulders seemed to get bigger with every scene, which I appreciate greatly. I’m 100% going to read the finale, and I’m definitely going to read everything else Henning has written.

July Statistics

I completely forgot that this was a section that I used to have until I was doing a serious overhaul on the blog recently and reorganizing my categories, which meant editing every single post, and I traveled back in time to my earlier wrap-ups from 2020. I know why I got rid of this section–it was stressing me the hell out–but I’ve been trying to figure out a way to track the Great TBR Challenge, as well as actually keep an eye on my reading in a very casual way, so I’m bringing this back for a bit.

Books read: 5
Pages read: 2644
TBR: 2/5
Great TBR Challenge: 4/72

Monthly TBR

This month was rough. I think it was a combination of hating most of the books I read in June, and so kind of being exhausted with books in general, plus writing some very intense, seriously involved sections for my current book, and just–everything. But I only read three books in the first two and a half weeks, and I really thought I’d be coming at y’all with about four books in total read, but, luckily, Simon & Baz saved my life, and I’m feeling a little more hopeful about August’s TBR. I also didn’t really tackle anything on my July TBR, but oh well, I was trying not to fall down a black hole of fury at words.

As you’ll have seen by now, I’m taking a break for the month of August, but that is only in regards to posting. I will still be reading at my usual pace, writing up a storm, and blog hopping. June just really kicked me in the ass, and I need some time to decompress and refill my creative well. Thus, my TBR is all about having a good time:

  1. A Sprinkle of Spirits by Anna Meriano
  2. Solitaire by Alice Oseman
  3. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
  4. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
  5. Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth

I’ve had the second Love Sugar Magic on my TBR cart for literal months now, and I really enjoyed the first one, so I’d like to power through the rest of the trilogy. I’d also like to continue with my full Oseman universe read, too, since they’re usually fast, and they’re all stacked together taunting me right now. I’ve also been trying to read Kann’s debut book for a while, and it is actually the only book leftover from Pride that I have any interest in reading, so that’s a win for me! And though I didn’t read Ghosts of the Shadow Market in July, I did start it right at the end of the month, and I just fell head over heels for those characters, so I’m even more excited to meet Cordelia & her crew. And Tolkien! He makes a reappearance at long last! As you’ll see below, we watched 1917, and, not only did it break my heart, but it reminded me so strongly of Tolkien that now I want to read about him and WWI. Hopefully, I’ll actually manage to get a review up for the first time in ages.

Favorite Posts

Reads Rainbow dropped one of my favorite posts of the year–their roundup of all the LGBTQIAP+ YA releases for the second half of the year, and I have so many Goodreads tabs open that I can no longer see anything but the logo.

Writing Updates

Another one bites the dust! I’ve finished the second of Andrew’s eight lovers, and I definitely fell in love with him along the way. I mean, I kind of fell in love with Alexander, but I knew I was going to, so it didn’t totally count, especially because he very quickly started to piss me off. Philip took a while to get under my skin, and I mostly felt bad for him toward the end, rather than angry with him. I’m excited about Andrew’s next lover, Aurelian, because he’s going to be a much different kind of person than the first two, and it’ll be interesting to see the differences. I ended up writing 24,283 words to round out Philip’s story, which brings him up to 32k for him, which is not ideal, but it is what it is. It was funny, though, because I kept saying to one of my CPs that the length of Alexander’s section at 42k was really worrying me, and she told me not to put too much anxiety into the length, but now that she’s finally seeing what I am–that this story is stupid long–with the combination of Alexander’s 42k & Philip’s 32k, and they’re only the very beginning of an eternal story, well. She told me the panic was well deserved, haha.

I also wrote a Rafael interlude chapter that came out to 1,801 words, which will be all I write for him this month because there’s no way that I manage to start and finish Aurelian in one week. I’m hoping that lovers four, five, six, and seven will be much shorter than all the rest, given that Andrew doesn’t spend nearly as much time with them as he does with the first three, the eighth, and well, the last and best, Rafael. But we’ll see! I’m still trying not to concern myself overmuch about the length of this book because it’s going to be insane no matter what I do. It’s two thousand years worth of history, so. É o que é.

Also, lol big time @ me when I said I was going to take a full week off after finishing Philip. I made it four days? That said, though, I did only write his opening chapter at 1,619 words, so it wasn’t that insane. I ended up taking about a week off because ya girl really did need a break after Philip.

All told, I ended up writing 27,703 words this month. Not quite what I was hoping for, and only a little over half of what I wrote last month, but again, it is what it is. We keep moving forward.

What I’ve Been Watching

I went away to New York to visit Jen for a weekend, and we watched the first two episodes of Love, Victor, which I then abandoned for a couple weeks until a very exhausting weekend full of reunions. It was stressful, overwhelming, and I’d like it to not happen again for a year, please! But I definitely needed some decompressing–or decomposing, as my dad said–and I ended up watching a bunch of this straight endorphins show, and it was adorable. Specifically the Battle of the Bands episode, oh my gosh, if you need a pick-me-up that’ll make your face hurt from smiling, watch this damn episode, it was wonderful.

I truly cannot even believe that I’m about to admit to watching season two of Too Hot to Handle, but here we are. After we started Love, Victor, Jen saw that the second season was released, and she got all excited, so I said I’d read while she watched a few episodes. Well, we all know how that goes. I was pretty much instantly hooked on this sometimes awful, but surprisingly meaningful show, and yes, I did actually scream during the season finale when Cam finally asked Emily to be his girlfriend, I am a simple person with simple wants in life and that is for two gorgeous badasses to be together.

The news that The Old Guard was finally confirmed for a sequel AND would be starting filming next year was released–thank you to the goddess, Charlize–meant that I, of course, needed to rewatch the first one. Jen had never seen it, and I needed some eternal exhaustion in my life to keep up with writing my ancient vampire, and it was just everything. She loved it, I wept over Nile, we had a great time. I also haven’t watched it since December, which is quite a long time for me and this movie!

Did I open 20 tabs worth of Dieter & Vanderohe fanfiction after watching Army of the Dead because I am going to fistfight Zack Snyder for not letting them be queer? YOU BETCHA. Unlike literally every person in the world, I was completely oblivious about AOTD until Nathalie Emmanuel posted about being in the prequel, and Dieter was too cute not to look into AOTD, and it was a hilarious time watching that trailer, lemme tell you. The first minute of it just looks like a boring, sad movie starring Dave Bautista waving around some guns, and I was about to click out when BAM ZOMBIES. And wow, what zombies they were. Aside from the queerbaiting, I was all in on AOTD. The lore behind the zombies was amazing, I am so on board with the time loop theories (and then maybe we can have a sequel, and it can actually be queer), and I would 10/10 die for every single one of that crew (obviously except Martin). Chambers, though?? Holy shit, I was screaming, I loved her so much. The way she escaped Martin’s schemes not once, but twice!! She was amazing, and I want to be her best friend. Scott broke my heart, and it was so fun to see Bautista in a serious role, and even though his daughter annoyed me, it was also kind of nice to see the only relationship be familial. “It’s gotta be lobster rolls.” definitely about did me in, though. And yes, obviously, I am a mess for Dieter & Van, and I quietly shrieked every time Dieter called him “sir”, and the pride and determination with which they looked at each other when Dieter was working on cracking the safe is now what sustains me eternally. The only thing that could have possibly made this better (ignoring the queerbaiting again) was if the Coyote had been played by Charlize Theron (obviously, she has to live, though), but someone did an Old Guard fic crossover, so I’m actually all set!

Wow, 1917 was rough, but so damn good. That really just kicked me straight in the heart, and holy, the Tolkien vibes. I knew, conceptually, that he’d fought in WWI and that it’d largely influenced LOTR, but I hadn’t quite realized just how much, and seeing the horrors that Scofield faced racing across the country just really brought it home. The scene where Scofield recites the poem to the baby definitely had me crying not over the movie, but over Tolkien, and I definitely started reading the biography I’ve got about him & the war as soon as we finished watching. This was truly a stunning movie, though, and despite the fact that it made me ugly cry, I would watch it again and weep just as hard. (Honestly, probably harder.)

After two weeks off for various reasons, Erin & I finally got back together to rewatch The Boys in the Band. We both had no idea what it was about when we originally watched it, other than it was queer, and it turned out to be a truly incredible movie, so much so that we knew we needed to rewatch it as soon as possible. And honestly? I don’t think I would have survived the weekend of reunions without kicking it off with this movie, thank Satan for this stunning cast.

LIFE

What a month! You know, I may not have read a lot, and I may have gone a little insane while writing, but I certainly made up for all of it with my crazy busy life. We started things off amazing right away with finally making cherry crumble bars. I’ve literally wanted them since January, but I refused to use canned cherries–I don’t honestly like cherries unless they’re fresh–so that meant I was spending an hour in the muggy July New England heat wave individually halving & pitting four cups worth of cherries. It was way more cherries than I was supposed to use, so I had to end up doubling the recipe–had to like I’m so sad I had MORE bars to eat–which worked out amazingly because I took half of them up to Jen’s! Because I also went to New York!

One of my best friends, Jen, recently moved back to the East Coast, and she bought a house up in western New York, which I was yet to visit. She was just finishing up renovations, though, so we waited until that was all settled before I came. And wow, what an amazing weekend it was. We binge watched season two of THTH in one day, we ate ourselves silly in sushi, we got the most amazing and way too big sundaes before picking up her fiance at the airport, and we just generally had a wonderful time. I did yoga, I didn’t read a lot, and I lounged in Jen’s bed a lot while she unpacked from her honeymoon. It was amazing.

We’re also officially mask-less at the gym where I teach, and it’s been amazing. They’re still encouraging unvaccinated members to continue wearing masks, and honestly? People who climb are generally people who make sense, so it’s been fantastic. We’re still limiting how many people can come to class, although I will admit that the room is small, and we definitely are squishing a lot of people in. I also just started teaching another two additional classes, which is bringing me way more joy than I had anticipated somehow. Like, I should have known. I used to teach five times in addition to my regular full time job, and I LOVED it. I should have realized how much my endorphins were going to skyrocket at just the possibility of more than one class. It’s been so much fun the past couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to start bringing some workshops to the gym.

And I’ve been climbing a lot, too! Since I’m now teaching Mon & Thurs night, Liv & I climb for an hour and a half until I have to go teach, so we just have a set schedule now. One of my work friends has started coming on Mondays, and it’s just a whole world of wonderful. Seriously, guys, for as much as the reading part of my life royally sucked this month, I’m on cloud nine for the actual living part.

Oh, and peach pie! Normally, when I finish a novel, I’ll reward myself with buying a tarot deck. Andrew’s story, however, is broken into eight novella-sized parts, which will end up being about threeish books in total, and that’s–a lot of tarot decks. I can’t afford that! That’s like $600, no thanks! Thus, I’ve decided that every time I finish writing a lover’s section, I’m going to bake a pie! Or some other kind of pastry, who knows. The cherry crumble bars were right around finishing Alexander, so the peace pie goes to Philip, and I’m curious to see what’ll come next. It was delicious, too, and so damn worth it. And! The bars & pie are the first two on my list of recipes I’m excited to try this summer, so I’m working on that without even meaning to. (I think I’ll save the malasadas next on that list for Rafael, but lemon curd & raspberry brioche for Aurelian? Sure!)

How was your July?

Posted by:Mary Drover

she/her | yoga teacher | Tibetan Buddhism | part-time witch | full-time author | astronaut in a previous life

7 replies on “July Wrap-Up

  1. Books- finished the first four Heroes of Olympus books. Currently in the middle of the 5th book in the series

    Musicals- finally got to see one in person again. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at my hometown’s community college

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been seeing that around a lot of blogs, honestly. Must be something in the air! But I’m excited to have some time off and just relax for a few weeks. Thank you! I hope your August is wonderful! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ah, i’m glad to hear you enjoyed any way the wind blows! unfortunately, i felt disappointed by it because i really just wanted since book one was to see simon figuring out his family background and i feel like that came wayyy too late in this last book. nonetheless, it made me so happy to see simon & baz too because they’re the best!

    as much as i enjoyed these violent delights for being a romeo and juliet retelling, i am *not* prepared if roma and juliette actually die. technically, she did find a plot loop hole for mercutio’s death, so i’m hoping something similar will happen for our protagonists hehe

    i hope you enjoy radio silence! it’s one of my fav books of all times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I did love the book, and I was pleased about a lot of what happened, but his family background came so late, and I wanted so much more out of it.

      OH MY GOSH SAME! Part of me wants them to die because wow, what a power move, but I’m also terrified by the actual happening of it. I was so relieved that Marshall was actually alive. Like, I was theoretically prepared for him dying, but when he did, it was awful, and I can’t wait for him & Benedikt to be reunited.

      Liked by 1 person

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