July Monthly Summary

I wrote about this in my August Monthly Challenge post as well, but I’ve been feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump this summer. I know I still managed to read a total of 25 books in May/June/July, which is right on track for my reading goals, but reading has been feeling like a bit more of a chore. I get into these spurts where I just fly through a book every 3 days and can’t wait to read the next one. But I haven’t been as excited about the books I’ve been reading since I came back from Vietnam. That said, my August Challenge is to read as many books off my bookshelf as possible, and so far it is working wonders! Getting to pick my book based on what I’m feeling in that moment is so much more enjoyable than forcing myself the read something that, even though I might really want to read it in general, might not be what I’m feeling like reading in that moment.

So that’s my little update, without further ado, here’s my July Summary:

Books read: 10
Pages read: 3,176
Main genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Favourite book: Not That Bad

To start, I read two ARC’s in July, Sadie by Courtney Summers, and Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood. Both were fantastic! Sadie was a really interesting combination of murder mystery and YA. I struggle to call it YA at all because I really think this fits better as adult fiction that just happens to feature teenagers. It’s a gritty book, but what I loved about it was that half of it is written in the form of a podcast. It was such a different concept and it really worked for me. Rust & Stardust is based on the true crime that inspired Lolita, and while it was disturbing, I really liked the authors voice in this novel and thought it was a really accurate time period piece.

I managed to fit 2 audiobooks into July as well. The first was Not That Bad, which is a compilation of essays about rape culture, edited by Roxane Gay. I love Roxane Gay, so I knew this was going to be fantastic. What really struck me about the anthology was the diversity and the refrain that no matter what has happened to you, it is “that bad” and you should be justified in feeling however you choose about it. The second audiobook was of a totally different genres, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. This was my first fantasy audiobook and I actually really liked it! It’s this east-asian, dark retelling of the evil queen in Snow White and I thought it was super dark and compelling.

I snuck in 2 volumes of Lumberjanes in July. It’s a graphic novel series that I originally picked up because it was by the creator of Nimona (which I am obsessed with), but Noelle Stevenson has since moved on from the project and I’m kind of over it now- it’s a fun series, but it’s just always the same – so I’ve decided to move on. I didn’t write a review about the volumes, but the short volumes helped boost my reading numbers.

I read two YA/historical type novels; My Plain Jane, which is the second book in the (non-sequential) Lady Janies series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, and Bright We Burn, which is the final book in The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White. My Plain Jane was a bit of a disappointment compared to the first book, My Lady Jane, but Bright We Burn was a fantastic epic conclusion! Both are re-imagined history novels and I would definitely recommend Kiersten White’s books, as well as My lady Jane.

The Last two books I read were part of my July Monthly Challenge. I read An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar. I had a third book as well, which I picked to be Swing Time by Zadie Smith, but I admit that I haven’t finished it yet. I am about 100 pages in and I am liking it, it’s just a bit of a slower paced book that I’m slowly working my way through.

But I really liked An American Marriage. I thought it was a great look at America’s justice system and racial prejudice. I thought some parts of the book were a little problematic, but overall I liked it. Unfortunately I didn’t really like The Map of Salt and Stars. I thought it had a fantastic premise, but the writing wasn’t great, nor was the character development or plotting.

So overall still a good month and I’m hoping to get back of the swing of things in August!

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August Monthly Challenge

Okay, I have to admit, I’ve been struggling with my monthly challenges lately. It’s so busy in the summer and it’s hard reading my 3 challenge books on top of my book club selection and any ARC’s I’ve received. Even though I still managed to read 10 books in July (I really don’t know how), I’ve been feeling like I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and that I’ve been having to force myself to read. Even though I’ve liked lots of the books I’ve read, I miss the days of just grabbing whatever strikes my fancy in the moment, instead of feeling like I have to read a certain book because of either book club, or the challenge, or I received a free book.

So I’m going to try something new in August. I buy a lot of cheap books on bookoutlet.ca and at local and second hand bookstores that I just haven’t been able to get to, so instead of picking 3 books, I’m just going to be working on tackling as many of my existing books as possible. I will still be reading Circe as my book club selection for August, but otherwise, I’m going to be trying to infuse some excitement back into my reading by picking up whatever strikes my fancy! I’ve already jumped straight into a few books that I’ve been dying to read and I’m already getting excited about this challenge, whereas last month my challenge felt like a bit more of a chore.

What books have been sitting on your bookshelf forever that you’ve been dying to read?

June Summary

I know, it’s halfway through July and I’m only now posting my June Summary, it’s shameful, but it’s also summer and I am having so much fun doing all the outdoor activities! For this reason, I haven’t been reading quite as much and I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a slump. I had a great start to June, but things kind of floundered a bit after that. I struggled to finish my book club selection and I really only managed to read so many books because 2 of them were audiobooks and 1 was a poetry anthology. But enough excuses, here’s my June Summary:

Books read: 8
Pages read: 2,589
Main genres: Historical Fiction
Favourite book: The Great Alone

I have to start with talking about The Great Alone because I am obsessed with this book! It’s been a month and a half since I read it and still cannot stop thinking about it! It definitely tops my list so far as best book of 2018 and I’m not sure anything will be able to top it because I loved everything about this book, even though it tore my heart to shreds. It’s set in Alaska in the 1970’s and it has made me totally obsessed with everything to do with Alaska and I am now dying to go there. I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the book, I wrote a lengthy review of it if you want to check it out, but honestly, just get yourself a box of tissues and go read it immediately!

My love of The Great Alone inspired me to pick up two other books about Alaska in June. I finally read my copy of The Smell of Other People’s Houses, which believe it or not is set in the exact same time period, but in Fairbanks Alaska. This is a short YA book with the most gorgeous cover and the most disappointing story. I did not like this one, the plot was too shallow and lacked any really emotion. Secondly, I read Robert W. Service’s most popular poetry anthology from the early 1900’s, Songs of a Sourdough, which is mostly about the Yukon and Alaska. It’s referenced several times in The Great Alone and I was already familiar with some of his poetry (the cremation of Sam McGee), but I’m thrilled I picked this one up because it has some great poems in it and I love the rhythm of his poetry and sense of place.

I read one mystery novel in June, The Dry by Jane Harper. I quite liked it as it had a good balance of mystery, investigation, and flashback to a previous mystery, which I always love in a good PI novel. This book now has a sequel called Force of Nature, which I am dying to get to because it sounds like it might have a bit of man vs. nature conflict going on, which is always interesting.

I listened to 2 audiobooks. I ran out of credits on Audible and my library’s collection of audiobooks is truly shameful, so I found a free version of Jane Austen’s Emma that I decided to listen to. It took me like 2 months to get through this one though, and while I thought the narrator did a great job, it was just so flipping boring that I couldn’t love it. I also listened to Girls Burn Brighter, which I did like, but which was just so depressing that I found it hard to listen to. It’s a sobering book about human trafficking, but it was also much heavier than I was ready for. I gave both audiobooks 3 stars, because I do appreciate what both authors were trying to do with these books, but I didn’t love either.

Finally, I read two other historical fiction novels for my monthly challenge (The Great Alone was the first one): I was Anastasia and Fruit of the Drunken Tree. I did like both of these books, but sadly neither blew me out of the water and they were both pretty standard 3 star books. I did learn some neat history from both of them though, so I commend them for that.

And that’s it for June, I will try and be more speedy in July I promise!

July Monthly Challenge

Where did June go?? I have a feeling that summer is just going to fly by this year! It’s easily my favourite season and I have a lot of hiking and camping activities planned this year, so I’m not sure how much reading I’ll be able to fit in, but I’ve still developed a pretty ambitious summer reading list.

I’ve been doing my best to select diverse books for my monthly challenge (and in general), and to tie in some of my challenges with my book club selections, so for my July Monthly challenge I’m aiming to:

Read 3 book by authors of colour

Like in everything else, diversity and representation are just as important in literature. I love reading not only for the storytelling, but because I genuinely learn so much from reading about different historical time periods and reading from the point of view of those who are different than me. One of the easiest ways to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is to read a book by someone with a different perspective and lived experience.

I’ve always been frustrated that the majority of books published are by american and english authors, even books that are set in other countries and from other perspectives are often still written predominantly by white american and english authors. Even the books I’ve selected for this challenge are partly by american immigrants. The 3 books I’ve picked for this challenge are:

  1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  2. The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar
  3. Mystery Book! See poll below!

My first book, An American Marriage, has been sitting on my shelf since the beginning of the year and I’ve heard so many good things about it. An American Marriage is the story of a newlywed couple whose lives are ripped apart when the husband is sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Black people are systematically targeted by police and oppressed within the justice system, so I’m really interested to read about this couple and the impact this sentence has on their relationship.

My second book is also my book club selection for July. This novel is being advertised as “The Kite Runner for Syria” and sounds super fascinating because it focuses on two girls who lived 800 years apart. One girl is a modern day Syrian refugee and the second girl is a medieval adventurer and mapmaker, which I am totally intrigued by. 800 years a huge timeline gap, so I’m interested to see how the author approaches this, as well as how she explores the humanitarian crisis that is ongoing in Syria. The author is Syrian-American.

Okay, so now about my last book. I have been having a really hard time picking the last book because there are several books I want to read, but I’m not sure what one I’m most into. I like trying to have a diverse selection for my challenge, and in this case, I’ve decided it might be better to wait until after I read the first two books to see what I’m feeling might be the best final book for the challenge.

I’m not going into this totally blind though and there are several books I’ve been going back and forth between and have been torn on which to pick. The books are Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, and What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons. They are all quite different novels, each with different aspects that appeal to me, so I’ve decided to pick one of these later in the month. Please let me know if you’ve read any of them and vote in the poll below. I’d love to hear your opinions and they may help me decide which book I ultimately pick! I would of course love to read them all and they will all stay on my TBR, but I am trying to pick one for this month!

There you have it, feel free to read along with me and share your opinions, I love getting comments and feedback and talking about all things book related!

May Summary

May felt like a really slow month for me, but I still ended up knocking back almost 3,000 pages, so definitely nothing to feel bad about. My summary for May is:

Books read: 7
Pages read: 2,750
Main genres: Fantasy and Mystery
Favourite book: Children of Blood and Bone

I started the month off with an advanced reading copy of The Death of Mrs. Westaway from netgalley. I’m a little bit obsessed with Ruth Ware, so I was super excited about this one. Unfortunately it didn’t end of being one of my favourite Ruth Ware novels, but I did still enjoy it and I will definitely still be reading all her books.

After that I finally picked up a copy of Children of Blood and Bone, which I have been hearing SO MUCH hype about since it came out. I was worried it might have been over-hyped, but it definitely was not and I really liked this West-African inspired fantasy novel. It had several different perspectives and while I thought it was a little predictable, it was so fast paced and thoughful that I loved every second of it!

I went back and forth between fantasy and mystery novels this month. I really like mystery novels, but I don’t tend to read that many of them. I had 2 winners in May though! First I read Sometimes I Lie for my book club. I admit, I didn’t really want to read this one because it sounded kind of boring with the main character being in a coma. But it ended up being super compelling and have a million twists that I never saw coming.

The other mystery novel I picked up was Kristen Lepionka’s second book in her Roxane Weary series, What You Want To See. I loved Lepionka’s debut novel and I think Roxane Weary is a great PI/character. Her second novel did not disappoint and just made me love Roxane even more.

I had a few new fantasy releases that I just HAD to read in May. Sarah J Maas’ novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight, and the third book in the Ruined series, Allied, both came out on May 1. I wasn’t expecting much from A Court of Frost and Starlight, which is supposed to bridge the gap between the original series and a new spinoff series, and I got a story just as underwhelming as I expected. I have a whole ton of opinions on why this book was so bad, so read my full review for more. Allied was definitely better, although still a little underwhelming for the final book in a trilogy. I did like it, but sadly it didn’t have the same flair as the first two books.

I finished off the month with a great book though! I picked up The Astonishing Color of After on a whim and ended up loving it! It’s about a teenage girl who in her grief at losing her mother to suicide, believes she has come back as a bird. It’s full of magical realism and gorgeous writing. It took me a while to get through, but I thought it was a fabulous debut novel.

You’ll notice I didn’t complete a monthly challenge in May, but I have set one for June that I am very excited about!