2021 · Wrap ups

July Wrap-Up and Mini-Reviews 2021

A mixed month but the end was great

July had a slow start to things. I was feeling slightly slumpy so I didn’t force myself to read that much, but then it all turned around the last two weeks and I ended up reading a lot more books than planned. Even when last months 15 books has heavy I didn’t seem to need much recovery.

I ended up on 12 books this month…. but only 1619 pages lol! I’m not surprised. Out of those 12 books 7 were audiobooks which is over half of this months reads. In comparison, I didn’t read a single audiobook in May but managed 9 books and 2800 pages. I have been in an audiobook mood and if the choice has been there (The Raven King) I have chosen the audio format over the text format. That’s just how my month has been.

I completed my entire TBR game and almost all the other books. I still have one left and that’s Namesake by Adrianne Young. But I have starts one books from my August TBR and I’m over halfway. I have no idea when Namesake will be read…!

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.

The Wolf and The Woodsman by Ava Reid

e-ARC – NetGalley

n her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

I did a full review of this book here, but in short it was an entertaining read.

Surrender by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

e-Audiobook – Library

 

A runaway bestseller in Sweden that has sold more than a million copies worldwide, Surrounded by Idiots shares a groundbreaking new method of understanding the people around you that will change how you interact with everyone from your coworkers to your spouse.

Author Thomas Erikson explains that there are four key behavior types that define how we interact with and perceive the people around us. Understanding someone’s pattern of behavior is the key to successful communication. Erikson breaks down the four kinds of behavior types—Reds who are dominant and commanding, Yellows who are social and optimistic, Greens who are laid back and friendly, and Blues who are analytical and precise—and explains how to identify and interact with each type of person. Instead of being bogged down with overly technical categorizations, the simple four color system allows you to speedily identify a friend or coworker and adjust how you speak and share with them.

Surrounded by Idiots is full of practical information for interacting with people based on their color, including the strengths and weaknesses of all the profiles, how to give positive and negative feedback to each, and the best way to word an email when writing to someone with a different profile.

I picked this up hoping I would learn something about others and how to communicate with them. But I ended up learning more about myself than anyone else. Did it learn too much tho? I feel I understand myself more and I see the stuff I do and how normal it is to me but also how other might perceive it. I see colours in others too and I tend to make rash decisions of others based on the colour they give out. I may have started to align myself more with people who I will get on with and are as quick as I am and ignoring the rest. So I repeat, have I learned too much?

A Universe of Wishes edt. by Dhonielle Clayton

eARC – NetGalley

Fifteen diverse stories from the leading voices in YA, including a tale set in V.E. Schwab’s bestselling Shades of Magic series.

From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).

In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world. 

I really enjoyed this book and did a full review here though anthologies are difficult to review.

But I did find some new authors to read based on this anthology.

Sissy by Jacob Tobia

Audiobook – Library

A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above. 

“When the political reality facing this country seems dark, we need shinier, sparklier thinkers in the public eye. With a signature style matched only by their wit, Jacob fits that bill perfectly.” —Alan Cumming

From the moment a doctor in Cary, North Carolina put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride, a curse-turned-blessing, a freak-flag hoisted high. 

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story charts those decades, from Jacob’s Methodist childhood to the hallowed halls of Duke University and the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, taking you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. With the snarky voice and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissyguarantees that you’ll never think about gender—both other people’s and your own—the same way again. 

This was a super interesting read. I learned a lot about gender identity and it all made me think and consider my own identity (cis woman). Being aware of gender is so important even when you are cis gender. Understanding your own identity and gender is super important and I feel reading someone else’s journey helps you think and contemplate your own journey.

I learned a lot about the struggles of growing up non-conforming and a so called sensitive boy.

But I have to say that I loved how the author has included part of their life that involved them standing up to injustice/uncomfortable situations like the summer camp scene. I felt empowered by it and I loved it.

Rating a memoir is difficult but I have given it 4 stars based on the way the story is layed out and the balance between scenes of a negative nature vs positive. Also on how much it made me think and the narrator’s job (which in this case was the author themselves).

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Audiobook – Library

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family. 

This was my first ever Anna-Marie McLemore book and I want more please!

I loved the garden theme of this magic and the dark underlying story line for the garden. I loved how the focus was the garden and not the world around it and I didn’t even miss the rest of the world. The book-world felt large even though it was just a garden which sais something about the author’s skill.

Definitely picking up more by the author.

Sorcerer To The Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) by Zen Cho

eBook/Audiobook – Own/Scribd

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

I was surpriced by this book. I really enjoyed it but in the beginning I wasn’t so sure. It took me some time to get started and past the first chapter. I don’t think that had anything to do with the book but more that I was not in a reading a physical book mood so I ended up picking up the audiobook for this.

I did a full vlog of 3 Zen Cho books which you can find here.

Magic to Brew (Moonstruck #1) by Grace Ellis

eGraphic Novel – Library

Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

The first chapter of the brand new, all-ages magical coffee-laden adventure from Lumberjanes creator GRACE ELLIS and talented newcomer SHAE BEAGLE.

Collects issues 1 through 5.

This was a cute and heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and trying to balance friends and dating. My favourite part was the world. It was our world but with mostly magical beings instead of humans.

The Order of Moonlight Reflected in Pure Water by Zen Cho

Book – Own

Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

I enjoyed this read but not as much as the other Zen Cho reads.

I did a full vlog of 3 Zen Cho books which you can find here.

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Audiobook – Library

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

Probably my favourite Zen Cho book of them all.

Full review here.

I did a full vlog of 3 Zen Cho books which you can find here.

How To Be Both by Ali Smith

Physical book – Owned

DNF

Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else. A true original, she is a one-of-a-kind literary sensation. Her novels consistently attract serious acclaim and discussion—and have won her a dedicated readership who are drawn again and again to the warmth, humanity and humor of her voice.

How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real—and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

I didn’t like the writing. I didn’t like the characters. I was bored but managed to get to page 47 before calling it.

I will unhaul this book now. Thank you. Next.

Some Enchanted Evening (Moonstruck #2) by Grace Ellis

eGraphic Novel – Library

Werewolf barista Julie and her supernatural friends try to unwind at a party, but a conniving fraternity of fairy bros has other plans for our heroes. With one of their friends trapped in the frat house and the winter solstice (a notable night of magical mischief) looming ever-closer, it’s up to the amorous werewolves and gregarious centaur to save the day.

Collects MOONSTRUCK #6-10

Not as good as volume 1 but still heartwarming and entertaining read. I’ll keep my eyes open for volume 3.

The Raven King (Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Audiobook – Scribd

Synopsis to book #1 The Raven Boys:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore

Well. What can I say?

Such a well written ending to a series. I did not know how or what would happen. I had a few guesses and hopes but nothing that make me see the ending the way it unfolded. Well done!

This is definitely a series worth re-reading. Also I want to read Call Down The Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1) which follows Ronan on his journey after this book.

Unashamed: Musings of a Fat Black Muslim by Leah Vernon

Audiobook- Library

A searingly honest memoir of one young woman’s journey toward self-acceptance as she comes to see her body as a symbol of rebellion and hope and chooses to live her life unapologetically.

Ever since she was little, Leah Vernon was told what to believe and how to act. There wasn’t any room for imperfection. Good Muslim girls listened more than they spoke. They didn’t have a missing father or a mother with mental illness. They didn’t have fat bodies or grow up wishing they could be like the white characters they saw on TV. They didn’t have husbands who abused and cheated on them. They certainly didn’t have secret abortions. In Unashamed, Vernon takes to task the myth of the perfect Muslim woman with frank dispatches on her love-hate relationship with her hijab and her faith, race, weight, mental illness, domestic violence, sexuality, the millennial world of dating, and the process of finding her voice.

She opens up about her tumultuous adolescence living at the poverty line with her fiercely loving but troubled mother, her deadbeat dad, and her siblings, and the violent dissolution of her 10-year marriage. Tired of the constant policing of her clothing in the name of Islam and Western beauty standards, Vernon reflects on her experiences with hustling paycheck to paycheck, body-shaming, and redefining what it means to be a “good” Muslim.

Irreverent, youthful, and funny, Unashamed gives anyone who is marginalized permission to live unapologetic, confident lives.

“When you’re an artist, your body belongs to the world”

This was a very insightful view of the Muslim community and general views of bodies and fat shaming etc. I learned a lot about fatphobia and criticism that comes with it. I also learned what not to say etc which help me be nicer to others both when it comes to people of different sizes and people of different faiths and backgrounds.

However. I was not a big fan of the way the books was laid out. I didn’t like how much separation there was between the parts. It left me confused as to how they fitter together time wise.

Anyway. It was a good read.

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:
    • None!!

Available credit from last month; 2

Credit transferring over to next month: 4

  • Only request two ARC’s:
    • Under the Whispering Door by T J Klune
    • The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
    • Far From The Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Available credits from last month; -7

Credit transferring over to next month: -10

Oh fuck…. This statement is getting old but oh so relevant

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
  • I tried to read How to Be Both but DNF’ed it. Its still counts but I’m now unhauling it.
E-book shelf
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

That’s it!

Have you read any of these?

Until next time; happy reading!

5 thoughts on “July Wrap-Up and Mini-Reviews 2021

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