2020 · Wrap ups

June Wrap-Up and Mini-Reviews 2021

A mixed month but I enjoyed it.

June was a good month. QueerLit happened in the middle and swept me off my feet. Then after I couldn’t get back up and kept re-reading Heartstopper. I had to buy volume 1-2 since I didn’t have them and then just binge read all 4 volumes. Not sure why but I couldn’t get out. I still can’t.

I ended up on 15 books this month…. ( not counting my Heartstopper obsessive re-reads) but my page count in less than last month so I read a lot of shorter books this month which is fine by me because they were great!

Anyway.

Let’s just dive in 🙂

As a reminder: To me, 5 ivy leaves is an amazing book that stuck with me, surprised me, one I could stop thinking about, I got lost in, etc. 4 ivy leaves is an enjoyable read something I really liked, but that’s it. 3 ivy leaves are either a disappointing read, or the book is just OK.

Harrow The Ninth (Gideon the Ninth #2) by Tamsyn Muir

Physical book – Own

Book 1 synopsis:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Probably the best sequel of the year. However, it’s a 500pages book and I was confused for the first 380pages before it started to make more sense. A bit of a shame but I still enjoyed and loved reading this book. I wonder how the story will turn in the next instalment.

Mrs Death Misses Death by Selena Godden

e-Audiobook – Library

Mrs Death tells her intoxicating story in this life-affirming fire-starter of a novel.

Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.

Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . . 

I love the dark humour in this interesting book. But the ending fell a bit flat for me. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention. I appreciate the mental health exploration of the main character and the discussion of death in here. It made it interesting to read.

For The Wolf by Hannah Whitten

ARC – NetGalley

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

hm.

Full review found here.

It was an ok stroy but not entierly for me.

Maurice by E. M. Forster

Audiobook – Library

Maurice is heartbroken over unrequited love, which opened his heart and mind to his own sexual identity. In order to be true to himself, he goes against the grain of society’s often unspoken rules of class, wealth, and politics.

Forster understood that his homage to same-sex love, if published when he completed it in 1914, would probably end his career. Thus, Maurice languished in a drawer for fifty-seven years, the author requesting it be published only after his death (along with his stories about homosexuality later collected in The Life to Come).

As a classic I had expectations that in the end wasn’t met and it surprised me so much I ended up loving the book.

If you want more opinion see QueerLit wrap up post.

Where We Go From Here by Lucas Rocha

Audiobook – Spotify

Ian has just been diagnosed with HIV.

Victor, to his great relief, has tested negative.

Henrique has been living with HIV for the past three years.

When Victor finds himself getting tested for HIV for the first time, he can’t help but question his entire relationship with Henrique, the guy he has-had-been dating. See, Henrique didn’t disclose his positive HIV status to Victor until after they had sex, and even though Henrique insisted on using every possible precaution, Victor is livid.

That’s when Victor meets Ian, a guy who’s also getting tested for HIV. But Ian’s test comes back positive, and his world is about to change forever. Though Victor is loath to think about Henrique, he offers to put the two of them in touch, hoping that perhaps Henrique can help Ian navigate his new life. In the process, the lives of Ian, Victor, and Henrique will become intertwined in a story of friendship, love, and stigma-a story about hitting what you think is rock bottom, but finding the courage and support to keep moving forward.

Set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this utterly engrossing debut by Brazilian author Lucas Rocha calls back to Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series, bringing attention to how far we’ve come with HIV, while shining a harsh light on just how far we have yet to go.

I did not expect to learn so much about HIV as I did from this fictional book. I loved it! And all the drag queens and project rainbow in the end. Such a feel good book but also such heart wrenching stigma and facts that comes with HIV diagnosis.

Ian was my favourite character in here. I loved his storyline.

The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya

Audiobook – Spotify

Everyone talks about falling in love, but falling in friendship can be just as captivating. When Neela Devaki’s song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins. But as Rukmini’s star rises and Neela’s stagnates, jealousy and self-doubt creep in. With a single tweet, their friendship implodes, one career is destroyed, and the two women find themselves at the center of an internet firestorm.

Celebrated multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya’s second novel is a stirring examination of making art in the modern era, a love letter to brown women, an authentic glimpse into the music industry, and a nuanced exploration of the promise and peril of being seen. 

Another surprise for me. I didn’t know this would have such a heavy focus on female friendship and it was great. But it also focuses a lot on cancel culture and accidentally saying the wrong thing which gets analysed into something else by the media.

Nick & Charlie (Solitaire #1.5) by Alice Oseman

Audiobook – Library

“CHARLIE: “I have been going out with Nick Nelson for two years. He likes rugby, Formula 1, dogs, the Marvel universe, the sound felt-tips make on paper, rain and drawing on shoes. He also likes me.”

NICK: “Things me and Charlie Spring do together include: Watch films. Sit in the same room on different laptops. Text each other from different rooms. Make out. Make food. Make drinks. Get drunk. Talk. Argue. Laugh. Maybe we’re kind of boring. But that’s fine with us.”

Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie are the perfect couple – that they’re inseparable. But now Nick is leaving for university, and Charlie will be left behind at Sixth Form. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question – they’re ‘Nick and Charlie’, for God’s sake!

But as the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Or are they delaying the inevitable? Because everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever…” 

This was not as sweet as the graphic novels but makes me excited for the next graphic novel instalment (volume 5). I think there is room for 1-2 volumes between Heartstopper volume 4 and this short novella. Depending on how she does it. But there is a big gap between Volume 4 of the graphic novels and this novella.

Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Audiobook – Spotify

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

Another surprise! I had zero expectations and didn’t even know what the book was about but I heard it was queer and I had access to it so I read it for QueerLit and I loved it. I learned a lot about immigration and how much pressure there is on green card holders etc. Also learn about the different levels of cay culture within different types of immigration from adoption to just speaking something else than English with your family at all times.

Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

Audiobook – Library

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco—a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.

This was a wild ride with a lot of explicit scenes as Paul goes on a sexual exploration. But all that tapers off as the book goes along and there are some interesting discussion on gender and queer identity in art. I’m glad I read it but the ending wasn’t all that great.

The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdom #1) by Tasha Suri

ARC – NetGalley

Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Full review here.

I enjoyed this story. I loved the world and the magic. I’m definitely picking up the second instalment whenever that comes out.

Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman

Physical book – own

Nick’s journal: I think I’m in love with Charlie. This summer with him and our friend has been amazing, and I want to say ‘I love you’, but… I guess I’ve had other things to worry about lately…

I AM HEARTSTOPPER OBSESSED! I can’t help it. I’ve re-read the whole series at least 3 times in the past week… I might need help.

🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰🌈

Solitair by Alice Oseman

Audiobook – Library

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.
I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers. 

I did not expect this to end the way it did. It made me cry in a beautiful melancholy way of that even makes sense. I loved to see Nick and Charlie in the background. Solitaire took place at the same time as Heartstopper volume 4 and there were a few overlaps which made it all stuck together.

Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2), Rouge Patrol (Murderbot #3), Exit Strategy (Murderbot #4) by Martha Wells

Physical books – Borrowed

Book 1 synopsis:

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

I binged these… 😏 I have no regrets even tho that meant part of my June TBR is pushed into July. Zero regrets!

I love Murderbot and it’s retaliation to humans. It’s very funny and sassy. Also Murderbot and ART are couple goals 🙌

Can’t wait to get my hands on book 5 and 6!

Reading Challenge check:

Let’s hold me accountable.

I have two goals this year which involve acquiring books;

  1. only buy two books a month,
  2. only request two ARCs a month.

Rules: For buying books it only for books I, personally, spend money on including subscription boxes (one per box), but it excludes my audible membership and all free books and gifts. For the ARC’s I’ve focused on my request-button-pressing and not getting the requests approved because you don’t know if it will be approved, nor do you know when it will be approved. Therefore, only two request-clicks per month. I can move the points between the months and if I don’t use them in one month transfer them to the next month.

I will have this on my wrap-ups every month.

Let’s check if I stuck to my goals:

  • Only buy two books a month:
    • Heartstopped volume 1
    • Heartstopper volume 2
    • This Winter by Alice Oseman

Available credit from last month; 3

Credit transferring over to next month: 2

  • Only request two ARC’s:
    • Namesake (Fable #2) by Arienne Young
    • A Universe of Wishes edt by Dhonielle Clayton
    • Switch by A S King
    • Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
    • Velvet as the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
    • Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Available credits from last month; -5

Credit transferring over to next month: -7

Oh fuck….

TBR Shelf Reads

I also had a goal of reading one book form my physical shelf and one books from my e-book shelf per month. None of these can involve 2020 or 2021 acquired books. Based on all the books I read this month these are the once from my shelves:

Physical shelf
  • none – it was all new books and library books this month which isn’t good.
E-book shelf
  • none – I planned to but again it didn’t happen… oops.

That’s it!

Have you read any of these?

Until next time; happy reading!

4 thoughts on “June Wrap-Up and Mini-Reviews 2021

    1. I just had a good month. My normal amount of books are around 8 a month. Yeah Gideon the Ninth has a great cover too. And there are some good humour in these 😁

      Like

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