JANUARY WRAP UP

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january is over which means time for a wrap up!! and let me say, january was good to me. i read 14 books, THREE of which made it to my 2020 favourites shelf, which was such a pleasant surprise. AND 2 of those 3 books were nonfiction, which is so unheard of for me. there’s some amazing nonfiction out there apparently, who knew?? (everyone knew)

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what i read

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🌵 January 1-2: Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan | ★★★

this one doesn’t come out till june so i won’t say much, but i have a review of it that’s going to be posted to the blog around that time. if you’re curious though, i wrote a review for it on goodreads.

🌵 January 3-4: Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson | ★★

woman likes shitty man, woman sleeps with shitty man, woman is sad because shitty man ghosts her. the end. (what was i supposed to get out of this, exactly ???) needless to say, i didn’t particularly enjoy this.

🌵 January 4-5: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin | ★★★

► this was enjoyable, but i had a lot of little gripes about it that just accumulated over the course of my reading it.
► by far my biggest problem with this book was that the romantic dynamic between its 2 main leads was SO SIMILAR to matthias and nina’s dynamic from six of crows. like pretty much identical. the nina character, lou, speaks her mind, is free-spirited, embarrasses her love interest, is part of a group of people that the love interest has vowed to exterminate, loves desserts, and has magical powers. the matthias character, reid, is uptight, has been indoctrinated into a group of people with an oppressive ideology, is good at fighting, but ultimately falls for the nina character. it was just way too similar for me to able to disentangle it from six of crows. also let’s be honest the nina/matthias dynamic is SO much more well-executed than the lou/reid dynamic.
► did not like how possessive/territorial reid was. im so bored by male characters who feel the need to protect their female love interests at every second. chill
► i am also so bored by male love interests who are angry all the time. chill
► the inclusion of french in this book is so forced and randomly done that it added absolutely nothing to the story. telling me a character is drinking a “chocolat chaud” at a cafe is not worldbuilding lol. nor is adding the occasional french swear word.

🌵 January 6: “Color and Light” by Sally Rooney | ★★★★★ (reread)

(listened to sally rooney’s narration of the story on the new yorker podcast)

“He’s seen the display ten or twelve times now, or however many years the festival has been going. The first time he was a teenager, still in school. He thought that his life was just about to start happening then. He thought that he was poised tantalizingly on the brink, and that any day—or even any minute—the waiting would end and the real thing would begin.”

so tantalizingly short. there’s a feeling, here, that something is on the brink of happening, that something important has maybe already happened–and then the story ends.

it’s just so damn good.

🌵 January 6-8: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid | ★★.5

What compelling story this book had was completely overshadowed by its weak dialogue. There is so much extraneous dialogue in this book. So. much. unnecessary. dialogue. I like “unnecessary” dialogue when it helps build character dynamics or establishes a social atmosphere of some kind, but that was not the case here. Like Emira and Alix would be talking and literally every other sentence would be Briar interrupting them with some weird observation (do kids really talk like that ?) that completely detracted from the oftentimes serious conversations being had.

Also I didn’t like the ending of this at all. I’m just so tired of endings that deflate all the conflict that had been building up in the story by tying everything up in a pretty little bow with zero nuance or time to actually flesh out the implications of what the characters did.

One more thing that irritated me: the constant references to Alix’s weight. Always the fact that Alix hasn’t lost her baby weight or has gained weight or her friends telling her she needs to lose weight or her eating too much and thinking about how she needs to drop the baby weight. This was never questioned or challenged; we were just supposed to accept that being fat is bad and that shaming your friends for their weight is okay. (Hint: it’s not.)

🌵 January 6-13: The Idiot by Elif Batuman | ★★★★.5 

haven’t reviewed this yet, but it’s one of my favourite books of this year. psychologically astute, thematically complex, and compellingly written.

🌵 January 14: Fox 8 by George Saunders | ★★★.5 stars

such a cute lil book complete with fun doodles and some interesting, relevant themes about environmental conservation. a quick, enjoyable read.

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🌵 January 8-16: Know My Name by Chanel Miller | ★★★★★

wow wow wow. this is one of the most powerful books i have ever read, and i don’t hesitate to say that for a second. it is searing, arresting, masterful. it seems false, somehow, to give this a numerical rating, given how monumental of a read it really was, but this book deserves nothing less than 5 stars.

🌵 January 15: Lucky Caller by Emma Mills | ★★★

definitely my least favourite emma mills. the dialogue was weak and a little repetitive, the jokes never quite landed for me (i barely laughed at all while i read this, which is a travesty considering this is an emma mills book), and the characters just didn’t end up feeling all that fleshed out. the story needed more pages and more time to breathe; sadly, it didn’t get either.

🌵 January 14-19: Solace by Belinda McKeon | ★★

sadly a very forgettable book. the characters didn’t feel fleshed out, and the plot meandered. i didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, or that it even had anywhere to go. definitely recommend reading Belinda McKeon’s Tender though. it’s leaps and bounds better than Solace.

🌵 January 16-22: Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett | ★★.5 | full review

🌵 January 21-24: The Book of X by Sarah Rose Etter | ★★.5 

the prose here is what didn’t work for me. it was trying to be poetic but couldn’t quite get there, so what you got as a result was writing that felt clunky and forced more than anything else. the book is also very episodic in terms of the way its told—typically in half-page mini chapters—and so that, too, ended up making the story feel more fragmented and less cohesive as a narrative.

i do appreciate the focus on loneliness and isolation in this story, though. etter definitely didn’t sugarcoat her protagonist’s experiences of sometimes unbearable solitude and longing.

🌵 January 26: Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell | ★★★.5 

will review this soon, but it was a really lovely collection of short stories, all centering on the experiences of adolescent girls in northern ireland.

🌵 January 22 – February 3: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe | ★★★★★

it’s kind of cheating to include this in my january wrap up since i technically didn’t finish it till february, but i really wanted to include it anyway because it was AMAZING. i read the audiobook and WOW. i’m gonna try and write a full review for this soon because it was honestly one of the best non-fiction books i’ve ever read. it doesn’t get better than this.


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APRIL WRAP UP

wrap up


april has finally come to an end and it’s been wild, to say the least. i barely read anything in the first two weeks, but managed to read a lot in the end of the month so it balanced out. i had some great reads, some okay reads, and some not great reads. overall, not too bad!

below are all the books i read this month, in the order i read them, and all the blog posts i’ve written this month too. if i’ve written a full review for any of the books below, i’ve linked it. and for those that i haven’t fully reviewed, i’ll leave a mini-review in this post. 😊

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what i read

BloomLovely WarConversations with Friends

Image result for love from a to zAlways Never YoursSeverance

Image result for spinning silverNormal PeopleIf I'm Being Honest

Hark! A Vagrant (Hark! A Vagrant, #1)


🌵 April 8: Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Samantha Ganucheau | ★★★ | Mini Review

🌵 April 12: Lovely War by Julie Berry | ★★★ .5

I enjoyed this, but I can’t say much more than that. I’m honestly struggling to write a review for this right now because it was sadly pretty forgettable to me. I’ve never really been that big of a fan of World War I or II stories, and basically all of this book is a WWI story, so… Julie Berry is an amazing writer though, and I’m still eagerly anticipating anything she decides to write.

🌵 April 12-13: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney | ★★★★ | Full Review

🌵 April 14: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali | ★★★ | Goodreads

I didn’t love this, but I thought it was an overall enjoyable story with great ownvoices Muslim rep. I especially liked the framing of Love from A to Z‘s story, the fact that the story is coming from the Marvels and Oddities journals of its protagonists. The novel also tackles a lot of issues: Islamophobia, microaggressions, being diagnosed and living with multiple sclerosis, social justice more generally.

The only reason this gets 3 stars is because I found the development of the dynamic between its main characters lacking. The novel is supposed to be based on this romance between Adam and Zayneb, but I never really felt that enough time was dedicated to them getting to know each other. Overall though, I think a lot of people will enjoy this when it comes out (April 30th!!).

(Thank you to Salaam Reads/ Simon & Schuster Books for providing me with an eARC of this via NetGalley!)

🌵 April 16: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka | ★★★ .5 (reread!) | Full Review

🌵 April 17-19: Severance by Ling Ma | ★★ .5 | Full Review

🌵 April 21-22: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | ★★ .5 

I mostly found this to be really underwhelming. The plot was soooooo slowwwww and at some points I just felt like I was reading different descriptions of the same thing, mostly just wintery settings. Overall, this book struck me as a plot- rather than character-focused one. There were some attempts at giving the protagonists some character development, but it never really felt substantial to me. Plus, there were like 92307424 POVs in this book, and a lot of them just weren’t necessary. I ended up skimming a lot of this, so I can’t really say that I enjoyed it all that much.

🌵 April 23-24: Normal People by Sally Rooney | ★★★★★ (reread) | Full Review

🌵 April 26: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka| ★★★★ 

I was expecting Cute Shit, and that is exactly what I got. This was great!! I loved Cameron and Brendan, loved all the cool settings that the characters go to, loved the whole Taming of the Shrew-inspired plot. Fun and fluffy and enjoyable.

🌵 April 27: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton | ★★★

Kate Beaton is clearly very funny, I just wish i had the historical background to understand most of her comics–because when they didn’t go over my head, I actually really loved them.

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what i wrote

Here are all the blog posts that I’ve written this month! Given that this was my first month of actively blogging, I’m really happy with what I’ve been able to put out (13 blog posts in 2 weeks!!!) and have so many ideas for blog posts going forward. Thank you so much to everyone who’s followed or liked or commented–I really appreciate it. 😊

🌵 Book Review: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

🌵 Mini Book Reviews (January-April)

🌵 Top 5 Rainy Day Reads (Top Ten Tuesday)

🌵 Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney (aka my fav book of the year so far!!!! nbd!!)

🌵 First Lines Friday #1

🌵 Book Review: Severance by Ling Ma

🌵 How I Designed my Book Blog (this was my fav post of the month to write! i loved going through my design process and putting all its parts together to create an image of what i was going for with my blog design 😊)

🌵 Book Review: Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

🌵 Beautiful Books: Behind the Scenes – Jane Austen Chiltern Editions (this is a new series that i started on my blog and that i really enjoyed doing!! i basically feature some beautiful books that i own and show you some of the cool design aspects that they have)

🌵 Meeting Sally Rooney (discussion) (aaaaaa i still cant believe i actually met sally rooneY!!!!!!)

🌵 Favourite Books for my Favourite Movies (recommendations) (also LOVED writing this post. i love these movies so much so i really enjoyed recommending books similar to them!!)

🌵 April – Monthly Favourites


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MINI BOOK REVIEWS (january-april)

mini review


hi everyone!! my semester is finally over so i actually have the time to work on my blog now!!!! (free time ??? a foreign concept) exciting things are coming your way!!!!!! anyway, here are some mini-reviews i’ve written for some of the books i’ve read this year, ones that didn’t really merit a full review but that i had still thoughts about. 


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black[January 3-4, a reread]

this isnt quite a 5-star read for me, but damn holly black knows how to craft a compelling story. 

some random things i noticed on reread:
• i love how ANGRY of a character jude is, especially as a female character. jude has so much anger in this novel, so much rage at how she’s been stepped on and trampled and robbed of any sense of security. and her anger is valid and important and a huge part of her character development. 
• the dresses in this novel are a feast for the senses. holly black is so good at describing fabrics and design and just fancy clothes in general.

4.5-


 

The Lost Sisters by Holly Black[January 5-7, listened on audiobook]

what an excellently written surprise of a novella. yall know how stingy i am with my ratings, so for me to give a novella of all things 4 stars is a big deal. i honestly just really enjoyed this. black’s writing is even better than in the cruel prince. even more, she manages to weave in a host of thoughtful and interesting themes throughout this sliver of a story. it felt like there was so much to unpack in this novella, so much so that i read it twice just to make sure i fully grasped all its substance.

four


 

Mr Salary by Sally Rooney

[January 16]

“In chronic leukemia, the cells can mature partly but not completely, the website said. These cells may look normal, but they are not.”

It’s a very short story, but one that’s nevertheless filled with nuance, with individual particularities, and with characters who perfectly toe the line between being knowable and being enigmatic. I’ve only ever read one other work by Sally Rooney, but I can already tell you that this short story is just Classic Sally Rooney.

four


 

Emma by Jane Austen

[January 16-20, a reread]

Emma is a novel of such fine characterization; I am constantly in awe of how assuredly and masterfully Austen crafts her characters. Emma especially is a marvel of character work: you are introduced to a host of funny, well-drawn, amusing, and deeply realistic characters that by the end of the novel, you feel as though you’ve lost people you’d gotten to know so well that they’d started to feel like family. 

four


My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh[January 8-22, listened on audiobook]

This book was so…weird. Moshfegh definitely does not shy away from the ugly or disgusting or grotesque. I don’t think I ever actively enjoyed this book while reading it, but something about it–maybe the sheer apathy of its narrator or the bizareness of its plot–made me curious enough to keep reading. It’s not a book for everyone, that’s for sure, and not quite the book for me, but I also can’t say that this story didn’t interest me to some extent.

2.5-


Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

[March 1-2]

god, virginia woolf’s writing is unbearable. it’s beautiful, yes, but that’s precisely why it’s unbearable. mrs. dalloway is a book whose every line feels like it’s underlined, bolded, italicized, and then highlighted for good measure. every moment is a Moment; everything feels overwhelmingly momentous. and maybe that’s the point of the book, maybe not. either way, it’s hard to wade through a novel that doesn’t let you catch your breath, that is so unrelentingly literary that it becomes not just exhausting, but also alienating.

two


Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
[March 14-25, listened on audiobook]
The first half of this, which was about the elderly and how they’re generally treated in society, was okay. Where this book really engaged me was in its more memoir-ish second half, where the author talks about his dad’s terminal illness and the decisions he had to make at the time. On the whole, though, Gawande writes succinctly and writes well, touching on a lot of topics that I don’t think we pay a lot of attention to; in this case, aging and how to come to terms with it when it inevitably catches up with us. Overall, the book’s title promises a discussion on Being Mortal and that’s exactly what it delivers on.

3.5-


 

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

[April 8]

pretty underwhelmed by this one, to be honest. the dialogue was kinda stilted sometimes (you’d get characters saying things like, “dude! haven’t seen you in a while man! how are you dude?” like yes we get it it’s Modern Lingo) and i just didn’t feel like the story did a good enough job developing the dynamic between the two main characters. that being said, i by no means hated this–the art was actually really nice; i just expected more from it.

three


 

for everyone who still has end-of-the-year work to do: I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!! see yall next time. ✌️


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