I know that it’s slightly weird that I have another monthly wrap up for the second post in a row.
Trust me, I do.
But I’ve (lowkey) scheduled what post I’m going to write per week in the month of august, and this was for this week!
Next week I’ll be posting a review for a blog tour and then hopefully a recommendations post! But I’m not promising anything as I’ve been either super busy or procrastinating/stressing as if my life depended on it.
I’m currently writing this post on the last day of july and can I just say, where the fuck did july go? I feel like july went so quickly and I don’t know how I feel about it. Next month is my birthday month and I’m turning 27 and I am not looking forward to it.
But I’m not going to write about my existential crisis – let’s get to wrapping up the month! In july, I read 12 books. I’m really happy with that. This month has been a really great reading month. I gave 5 books five star ratings, that is how good this month was in terms of my reading experiences. I also read a pretty good range of genres, I think, with some non fiction, literary, and fantasy, for instance. I also read what I think is my biggest disappointment.
Shall we get started?
For the short-story collection of the month, I read 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓮𝓬𝓻𝓮𝓽 𝓛𝓲𝓿𝓮𝓼 𝓸𝓯 𝓒𝓱𝓾𝓻𝓬𝓱 𝓛𝓪𝓭𝓲𝓮𝓼 𝓫𝔂 𝓓𝓮𝓮𝓼𝓱𝓪 𝓟𝓱𝓲𝓵𝔂𝓪𝔀. This was absolutely incredible. INCREDIBLE. I gave it 4.5 stars because it was such a wonderfully crafted short story collection that explored themes of institutional religion, theology, race, queerness (in some cases) and womanhood, specifically the experiences of African American women.
Some of the stories actually related to each other or extended one person’s story from one chapter to another. I think this was the most engaged I’ve been when reading a short-story collection so far this year. I think my absolute favourite story was Peach Cobbler! For some reason, I didn’t write down my individual ratings for each story so you just got to believe me when I say that this is a fantastic short story collection and I need to own a copy!
I keep on being blessed with the non-fiction I’ve been reading this year! And july was no exception. I finally read 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓻𝓰𝓸𝓷𝓪𝓾𝓽𝓼 𝓫𝔂 𝓜𝓪𝓰𝓰𝓲𝓮 𝓝𝓮𝓵𝓼𝓸𝓷 and 𝓢𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻 𝓞𝓾𝓽𝓼𝓲𝓭𝓮𝓻 𝓫𝔂 𝓐𝓾𝓭𝓻𝓮 𝓛𝓸𝓻𝓭𝓮. Both were phenomenal and both were five star reads for me.
𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓻𝓰𝓸𝓷𝓪𝓾𝓽𝓼 𝓫𝔂 𝓜𝓪𝓰𝓰𝓲𝓮 𝓝𝓮𝓵𝓼𝓸𝓷 is technically a memoir which, similar to 𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒎 𝑯𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝑪𝒂𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒏 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒅𝒐, where the memoir undergoes a transformation and a deconstruction – changing the definition of what a memoir means. I love this type of memoir-that-isn’t-but-is especially when it’s imbued with queer theory. It’s my jam but I understand why it wouldn’t be others. It’s very fragmented but not, in that, the fragments do make a whole but it can be jarring for some to read. At the centre of this book is Nelson’s relationship with her partner who is gender-fluid and both of their experiences as well as meditations on family and motherhood. It was ultimately amazing.
𝓢𝓲𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻 𝓞𝓾𝓽𝓼𝓲𝓭𝓮𝓻 𝓫𝔂 𝓐𝓾𝓭𝓻𝓮 𝓛𝓸𝓻𝓭𝓮 was another stunning non-fiction book and one that took me too long to actually get to! Why haven’t I read this before? The audacity of me. I don’t really have much to say other than I really loved this collection of essays that explored white feminism, intersectional feminism, racism and womanhood as well as queerness. I underlined and annotated it so much because I’ll most likely use it for my thesis. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do.
And then we get to the 𝖒𝖚𝖗𝖉𝖊𝖗.
Mysteries that is.
I read my second (I think) Agatha Christie, with 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓐𝓑𝓒 𝓜𝓾𝓻𝓭𝓮𝓻𝓼. I enjoyed this, it was engaging and suspenceful! Definitely enjoyed it more than 𝑷𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒍 𝒂𝒕 𝑬𝒏𝒅 𝑯𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒆. I just thoroughly love how everything comes together – how Poirot really thinks outside of the box and does the epic grand ending unveiling the murderer. On the edge of my seat!
The next murder mystery I read was influenced by Christie’s 𝑨𝒏𝒅 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝑾𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝑵𝒐𝒏𝒆 and that was 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓓𝓮𝓬𝓪𝓰𝓸𝓷 𝓗𝓸𝓾𝓼𝓮 𝓜𝓾𝓻𝓭𝓮𝓻𝓼 𝓫𝔂 𝓨𝓾𝓴𝓲𝓽𝓸 𝓐𝔂𝓪𝓽𝓼𝓾𝓳𝓲. This was actually so freaking thrilling? This book was originally published in Japanese in the late 1980s but only now, in the year 2021, has it been published in English.
Publishing Industry. Do better.
But this was amazing. I binge read this in two days. It kept the reader on the edge of their seat. I think what made it an awesome reading experience for me personally was that we had two perspectives: the students on the island and students on the mainland. It absolutely added to the unsettling atmosphere as you would see what was happening on the island and then turn to the mainland, where they had no idea what was going on. IT WAS FUN AND EXCITING and I vibed with it super well.
No thoughts, just vibes.
𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓟𝓻𝓲𝓸𝓻𝔂 𝓸𝓯 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓞𝓻𝓪𝓷𝓰𝓮 𝓣𝓻𝓮𝓮 𝓫𝔂 𝓢𝓪𝓶𝓪𝓷𝓽𝓱𝓪 𝓢𝓱𝓪𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓷 is immaculate.
That’s all I’m going to say at the moment because I am planning on writing a full review *fingers crossed I get to it soon*.
But read it if you’ve been wanting to because it superceded all of my expectations. And the writing was beautiful.
The next fantasy I read was one of my most anticipated books when it came out and that was 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓘𝓷𝓿𝓲𝓼𝓲𝓫𝓵𝓮 𝓛𝓲𝓯𝓮 𝓸𝓯 𝓐𝓭𝓭𝓲𝓮 𝓛𝓪𝓻𝓾𝓮 𝓫𝔂 𝓥.𝓔. 𝓢𝓬𝓱𝔀𝓪𝓫. This was great.
Not amazing. But great.
I enjoyed it but did it reach that level that I was expecting – especially from the hype?
Addie was a really awesome character and I loved her but Henry? He was mediocre and not a very engaging character for me.
BUT THE NEXT FANTASY NOVEL I READ WAS SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT.
This book right here. 𝓕𝓲𝓻𝓮 𝔀𝓲𝓽𝓱 𝓕𝓲𝓻𝓮 𝓫𝔂 𝓓𝓮𝓼𝓽𝓲𝓷𝔂 𝓢𝓸𝓻𝓲𝓪. I literally just finished this book last night and I want to yeet it out of my house.
I honestly think this is a me thing and not entirely the book’s problem. And I should say that all book opinion are my own, if you loved this book that’s fantastic and I wish that I did too!
This book is about two sisters who come from a family of dragon slayers – just humans who train to kill dragons. Eden, the eldest, like always in yound adult fantasy, is incredibly committed to the cause and has sacrified her life essentially, to ensure she’s training and ensure that she makes her parents proud. The younger sister, Dani, is the one who wants to be normal and go out with her friends but obviously ends up being basically a prodigy dragon slayer who accidentally gets into a soul bond with a dragon.
My issue with this book is mainly about the world building. In that, there really wasn’t much? And what there was didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t understand the big deal about Eden being the first dragon slayer AND sorcerer. Because nothing is stopping sorcerers themselves from just…training to be dragon slayers? They’re already going out and killing dragons. It’s not as though there was anything special or magical that made dragon slayers unique, just that they trained to kill dragons with entire families dedicating their entire lives to doing so.
So again, why can’t sorcerers WHO LIVE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS just do the same kind of training? We had no real explanation of that.
I also didn’t really like the way the dragon kept on being described. Nox, the main dragon soul-bonded to Dani, was described in terms of ‘lizard-like’ and reptilian as well as having ‘cat-like eyes’ – I’m guessing, just slitted? – and having a ‘canine-like’ face – because of the face muscles and eyebrows.
I just found the description weird.
We also don’t really find out why dragons have been hunted – I think it was mentioned that sorcerers or the High Sorcerer, Calla – historically, had manipulated humans and hunted dragons. But I think there was a mention of slayers living in harmony with dragons. So…what were they slayers of? THERE WERE SO MANY HOLES. And the whole semi-romantic plot line between Kieran, a 200 hundred year old dragon slayer bonded to a dragon and Dani, a 16 maybe 17 year old? Please, no.
I didn’t enjoy it at all and I think I originally gave it three stars but I’m going to change that to a two star.
But I will say that the casual bisexual rep was epic to see as well as the anxiety representation, especially of panic attacks and intrusive thoughts.
I read four literary books this month and two were five stars.
I’ll start with 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓕𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓷𝓭 𝓫𝔂 𝓢𝓲𝓰𝓻𝓲𝓭 𝓝𝓾𝓷𝓮𝔃. I enjoyed this. It’s a novel which explores the idea of which and whose stories are writers ‘allowed’ to tell. It’s a story within a story but it still was quite moving with one narrative concerning the unnamed narrator’s story of her friend who committed suicide and then the reality of that unnamed narrator. But anything about dogs make me sob. Ugly sob. And I did when I finished this book.
I finally conquered 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓖𝓸𝓵𝓭𝓯𝓲𝓷𝓬𝓱 𝓫𝔂 𝓓𝓸𝓷𝓷𝓪 𝓣𝓪𝓻𝓽𝓽. This was part of my challenge that I made myself at the start of the year to conquer specific big books on my tbr (you can find the insta post here). And I finished 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓖𝓸𝓵𝓭𝓯𝓲𝓷𝓬𝓱 . I really enjoyed it. I feel like it didn’t quite live up to my standards as I was expected a huge twist towards the end…but it wasn’t really. I did really love Theo (I read Theo as queer, Boris was his first love fight me) and reading his experiences as he grows up in the aftermath of his mother’s tragic death. Theo goes through so much fucking shit, the poor thing, that you can’t help but hope he finds himself and finds a proper home. I would consider this novel as an extended character study and a coming-of-age novel as well as a light mystery. I still have questions that weren’t answered by the conclusion of the book, which sucked and was ultimately the reason why I gave it four (.25) stars and not five.
But it’s the next two books which I read blew my mind.
𝓐𝓾𝓽𝓶𝓷 𝓫𝔂 𝓐𝓵𝓲 𝓢𝓶𝓲𝓽𝓱 in my mind is brilliant and a masterpiece and should have won the Booker Prize in 2017. There are no words to describe how this book fucking destroyed me. It is mostly a character study from two perspectives: Elisabeth and Daniel. Daniel owns my heart forever and I love him. Elisabeth was such an interesting character and her introspections ranged from social and political commentary to feminism to the effects of capitalism – thought not said so explicitly. But it was Daniel who shattered my soul with his reflections on time and aging and comparisons between world war two and the hatred and racism seen because of Brexit. This book was a wonderful piece of work and I cannot wait to continue this series.
And then I finally read 𝓞𝓷 𝓔𝓪𝓻𝓽𝓱 𝓦𝓮’𝓻𝓮 𝓑𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓯𝓵𝔂 𝓖𝓸𝓻𝓰𝓮𝓸𝓾𝓼 𝓫𝔂 𝓞𝓬𝓮𝓪𝓷 𝓥𝓾𝓸𝓷𝓰.
I won’t say too much about it because this book affected me on such a personal level. It made me re-examine my own life and my family in ways that I hadn’t really done before in depth. I come from a family of immigrants and my grandmother (yiayia) grew up during World War Two. And this book made me see so much more clearly the trauma of war and violence on how my grandmother was and her relationship to her children – my mum and uncle and the trauma they have as a result.
It was an incredibly personal reading experience and the way Vuong writes is masterful. I loved the way this book was written and structured – basically I loved everything about it and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
And that’s my july reading all wrapped up!
Overall, a really fantastic reading month and I’m excited to see what August will bring! Also, if you’re not following me on instagram, please do! I post more mini reviews there.
Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,