Posted in Reviews

May 2022 Wrap Up: hectic!!!

~reading

How many books that I planned did I read?

In my May TBR post, I plotted out 6 books to definitely read, but I had 10 actually on my list to try to get through. Of those ten, I read 7, so not bad! And I also read 7 totally other random books for a total of a mind-boggling fourteen books that I somehow read in May. 🤯

The Plan:

A few of these were in the list to be finished — Around the World in 80 Plants and Dune in particular — with a few new releases / ARCs rounding out the rest (You’ve Changed, Queen of the Tiles, A Hundred Silent Ways, The Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting, The Olympus Trinity).

The Result:

text/image

Yo, let me address Dune right away. I threw that one OUT of my LIFE, and I feel so good about it! That damn book has been HAUNTING me for literally years now! I recently gave myself (and anyone else!) permission to give up on this book, which I don’t usually have an issue doing, but this one stuck to me. Marking it as Attempted/Abandoned was extremely liberating, and I think I went on an absolute tear of reading after in a mixture of a rush of freedom and trying to escape it. 😂

I have since finished Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which was also a slog of a book. That combined with Dune was a tough mix. I dove into some mysticism to escape the monotony with Dragon’s Mage and Dragon’s Protector by Ava Richardson, which yes, are part of a series. ABOUT DRAGONS AND MAGIC! It was just what I needed!

I also squirreled away into some swoony romances with The Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin (LOOK FOR THIS ONE ON JULY 12, IT WAS EXCELLENT) which is absolutely one of my new favorites. 😍 Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee (also a July pub for the 26th) was a big-city-goes-small-town second chance romance with lawyers, books, and beer. An eclectic mix that worked so well.

And then I wrapped up the month by combining mysticism with swoony romance and went for Lady and the Vamp by C.C. Wood, which is about a Valkyrie and Vampire who meet on a dating app for non-humans. It’s a short read that was extremely fun and I can’t wait to meet the other characters in the world. ^.^

Posted Reviews:

~stats

A NEW SECTION THIS MONTH! I put an unnecessary amount of time into creating my own charts and graphs and such of my reading tracker, on top of all the wonderful charts and graphs and data that Storygraph tracks for me. So to showcase that a bit, here’s a little section for all the data people like me out there to drool over. 😍

  • My reading was 21% Nonfiction this month (and the remaining 79% fiction).
  • My top genres were Romance and Fantasy with 5 books each.
  • I mostly read books that were emotional, reflective, or adventurous.
  • My average rating was 3.9 stars out of 5. I read a total of 4,584 pages in May.
  • I traveled to Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, and Los Angeles, USA through my books (plus one that went global!).
Continue reading “May 2022 Wrap Up: hectic!!!”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo

We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo
Expected Release Date: June 7, 2022

Recommended: not really
For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic

Summary

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other―and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.

Thoughts

I really struggled to get sucked into this. It was a strange bunch of flip flopping. The first 50 pages had me hooked. By 150, it felt like nothing was happening and when I put the book down, picking it back up felt like a chore. By halfway, I was relatively invested and curious to see where it was heading. But by the end again, I wasn’t sure why any of what I read was important to the next part of the story.

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A-Z Alphabet Challenge for 2021! Yeah, I know, it’s late.

Hey y’all! Earlier this year I had a whole list written out of all the year-end challenge updates and posts I wanted to do from 2021. Clearly, I did not do all of those, because this one has still been hanging out. That’s a shame because it’s one of my favorite challenges I do (of very few!) and definitely my most consistent (at my 3rd year).

So here’s a look at the books I read for my A – Z challenge in 2021. My rules for myself are to read a book with a title that begins with each letter of the English alphabet. I can skip articles like “A” and “The” at the beginning so The Cat I Never Named would be counted under C, for example. Book covers are linked to their review (or other related content on here if no review.)

A lot of these letters had MANY titles I loved from them, but I’m forcing myself to choose ONE for each letter. Let’s take a peek, eh? 😊

The Books of 2021 Gallery, A to Z

Continue reading “A-Z Alphabet Challenge for 2021! Yeah, I know, it’s late.”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Recommended: sure
For a read about grief through the plot points of a murder mystery, for colorful characters who are lots of shades of morally gray, for a lot of words you never knew (but will after reading this!)

Summary

CATALYST
13 points
noun: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Thoughts

If you’re a person who hears that this is a YA murder mystery based at a Scrabble tournament and thinks “OOOOOH I might like that!!” then yes, you probably will. So if you’re already interested, you can probably stop here and just go read the book itself. 🙂

There’s kind of a twist to this at the end, if I can call it that? I think those that are in it for the murder mystery element should be aware that while it is the main moving plot point of the novel as they investigate each suspect, it’s kind of a light touch. The grittiness and darkness comes from the grief the characters deal with, rather than some kind of creepy malicious danger (though there is some of that, too). Also be aware that this is a young adult novel with young adult characters. So they do make stupid decisions. There’s a conversation early on that’s essentially “Should we tell the police?” “No way, they wouldn’t take us seriously / wouldn’t do anything! WE have to solve this one!” which, as always, made me roll my eyes. Not that it’s necessarily inaccurate of how the characters would think, but sigh. Can we just trust adults sometimes maybe?

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Fast Forward Friday: TJ Powar Has Something to Prove, 6/7/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo!
Expected Release: June 7, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Specific body positivity topics are more common in the past couple of years, and I love it! This one focuses on body hair, and a classically pretty, popular girl who puts her foot — and shaving razor — down.
  • This sounds like a story where people will be put in their damn place for being shitty people. And yo: I’m here for it. TJ is a debater, and a good one, so she is in perfect position to clap back at these assholes.
  • OOoooh and of course there’s romance. Sounds like it’s the kind where she tries to deny it, too, but just can’t quite pretend otherwise even to herself. Ahhh, young love. ^.^

Summary

When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.

As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Dragon’s Mage by Ava Richardson

Dragon’s Mage by Ava Richardson

Recommended: yes!
For a dragon story! For a story with the “realizing you were wrong about everything you thought you knew” storyline, for respectful characters that I was constantly pleasantly surprised by, for only the occasional stupid teenager decision

Summary

The book cover for Dragon's Mage by Ava Richardson.

A witch hunter is thrust into a magical, dragon-filled world…

At sixteen, Yanna Gray is part of her family’s Virginia based witch hunting enterprise, helping rid Earth of anything—and anyone—magic. But her militant life goes south when an enchanted amulet goes missing. Before Yanna can reclaim the artifact, the thief opens an interdimensional portal flinging Yanna into a frightening magical world.

Ragond is straight out of the forbidden fairy tales Yanna once read. Mythical creatures, witches, and mages live in harmony with humans. Here, all she’s grown up believing is turned on its head—especially when she discovers her own magical abilities.

Without access to a portal to Earth, Yanna is invited to shelter at Stonehaven—the training ground for witches, mages, and dragon riders—where she discovers true friendship, camaraderie, and a surprising bond with an ancient dragon. But all too quickly, Yanna’s magic-hunting past catches up to her.

Now, to save her friends and the dragon who partnered with her, Yanna must decide what she believes and who to trust.

Or her past might become Ragond’s downfall.

Thoughts

The simplest way I can review this book is to say that I will be continuing the series, for sure. Thankfully, they’re coming out one a month for the next few months!

This was a decent introduction to the world, and I can’t wait to meet more of the characters in it. There are a lot of books already set in this world, but I’m new to it and can’t wait not to be. Hooray that there are so many other books to read from here! 😀

I love books where the main character’s understanding of the world is challenged, and that is exactly what Yanna is going through. She’s a witch hunter, a killer of those who channel evil magic. But now that she’s in a world OF magic, and actually, she herself is now one of those evil magic users… maybe it’s worth a second thought. No surprise that there’s a lot of angst around this for Yanna as she wrestles with making her own decisions or adhering to what she has always been taught and trained.

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Happy 3rd Blogiversary to me!

Hey y’all! My first post on this site was technically a review for Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake on January 19, 2019, but my first “hello” post and official setup of this blog once I decided to fully transfer was on May 25, 2019! So that makes today my 3rd anniversary! I’m going to keep this post kind of short, because I’ve had an exhausting day and it’ll be my present to myself. But I might do some more in depth stuff later this week. 🙂

Notable Firsts

Most Popular Posts

Bolded ones are the top popular posts of all time!

Thanks for being here, y’all! 😊

Posted in Reviews

Meet the Book Blogger Tag!

Hey y’all! I’m coming up on my 3 year anniversary of starting this blog (4ish if you count the blog I had before this that was much lesser known) and I don’t think I’ve ever done any kind of introduction of myself or “get to know you” tag. Mostly because I didn’t think anyone would actually read this blog, and/or read it enough to care anything about who I am and not just the content itself. 😂

I still kind of feel that way, but I’ll throw this out there because at least one person (Dini @Dinipandareads, who tagged me — thanks doll!) might care, and I’ll have some fun writing it up. So, let’s begin. 😊

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Mention the creator Lauren @ Lala’s Book Reviews
  • Tag as many (or as few) people as you’d like
  • Have fun and get to know one another!

Introduction – who dis?

Sup y’all, it’s a-me, Mario — wait, no, it’s me, Jennifer. Right now I have a bad cold and it’s making me a little loopy, but this is not far off of my usual self anyway. xD I usually introduce myself by talking about how much I love reading but I think that’s kind of obvious. So instead I’ll do the ol’ classic two truths and a lie game and y’all can guess in the comments which is the lie.

  1. I’ve never broken a bone… of my own
  2. I’ve never eaten from McDonalds
  3. I’ve never dyed my hair

Something most everyone wants to know… do you have any pets?

UH WELLLL!! I recently got my first-ever puppy! I haven’t had a pet as an adult ever — hey guess what? My puppy just barked to come inside, like she knew I was “talking” about her. 🤣 Anyway, yes, I have a new puppy! Currently she’s almost 5 months old and is an English Cream Golden Retriever. Now that she’s a little more chill, she’ll sleep by my side in the early morning while I read. 🙂

Continue reading “Meet the Book Blogger Tag!”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori

Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori
Verdict: Plants are really fucking cool.
Also, this book is so good that I bought myself a copy to have halfway through reading my copy from the library. Can’t wait to dip back in and savor it all over again. ^.^

Recommended: yes!
for curious people, for gardeners, for people who like science, animals, traveling, and/or learning, for a fascinating set of plant vignettes that are easy to dip into and savor

Summary

An inspirational and beautifully illustrated book that tells the stories of 80 plants from around the globe.

In his follow-up to the bestselling Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori takes another trip across the globe, bringing to life the science of plants by revealing how their worlds are intricately entwined with our own history, culture and folklore. From the seemingly familiar tomato and dandelion to the eerie mandrake and Spanish “moss” of Louisiana, each of these stories is full of surprises. Some have a troubling past, while others have ignited human creativity or enabled whole civilizations to flourish. With a colorful cast of characters all brought to life by illustrator Lucille Clerc, this is a botanical journey of beauty and brilliance.

Thoughts

Fun fact about me: I generally dislike touching plants. It’s a weird little aversion, and maybe it’s from that time I pet a cactus as a child and learned what “regret” meant, but regardless of the reason, it’s a thing for me. Buuuuut I also really love nature and plants and learning and science. This is a fantastic little book, and what I most want to emphasize is that I truly think anyone can read and enjoy this!!! For a very factual nonfiction book on a very sciency topic, that is quite impressive!

So what makes it so accessible? It comes down to a few things: short chapters, cultural and societal stories about each plant, and gorgeous illustrations.

Continue reading “Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori”
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Review: Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Recommended: yes!
For a look at fame and legacy, for some play on gender norm flipping, for characters who go from unlikable to at least understandable, for a really interesting effect in the storytelling style

Summary

Dava Shastri, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has always lived with her sterling reputation in mind. A brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, however, changes everything, as she decides to take her death—like all matters of her life—into her own hands.

Summoning her four adult children to her private island, she discloses shocking news: in addition to having a terminal illness, she has arranged for the news of her death to break early, so she can read her obituaries.

As someone who dedicated her life to the arts and the empowerment of women, Dava expects to read articles lauding her philanthropic work. Instead, her “death” reveals two devastating secrets, truths she thought she had buried forever. And now the whole world knows, including her children.

In the time she has left, Dava must come to terms with the decisions that have led to this moment—and make peace with those closest to her before it’s too late.

Thoughts

I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this. What a pleasant discovery. I started off disliking every character, from Dava herself down to her grandchildren. As I saw into the minds and motivations of each of them, my understanding and sympathy grew. While I might still not be friends with all of these people, I no longer harboured my disdain for them.

I loved the way the past happened in this book. That might sound strange, but let me explain. There weren’t such clear moments of “that was then, this is now,” but at no time was it confusing. Dava is slipping between memories and her current experience so often as she deteriorates that we just slip along with her naturally. The feeling was akin to that of when you let your mind wander and end up recalling something you haven’t thought of in many years. All parts of the story were interesting and compelling, so I never resented moving from one moment to another.

Continue reading “Review: Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti”