Today is August 1st. Yeah, what the hell.
Didn’t July start, like, two days ago? I know I’m always talking about how the months keep passing by, but honestly, I had almost three and half months of summer vacation and now I have under a month left. That is ridiculous. I wish I could grab time by the shoulders and tell it to slow down.
So, today I bring to you my monthly wrap-up for July. I had a fantastic reading month; I read more than I have in a long time, and I did well in terms of quantity, but below average in terms of quality. My blogging was a huge success this month since I hit my all-time highest view-count. I also received my first physical ARC that I requested, which is another milestone in my blogging career. My Bookstagram is going steady, and I also visited a new country! Not to mention that I got my hands on a new Harry Potter story. So, all-in-all, July’s been a great month – which is probably why it passed by so quickly. I’m going to stop rambling now and get on with the wrap-up.
Reading Wrap Up
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan | 3 stars | Review
Penumbra’s started off strong with the promise of a book-lover’s greatest dream. The protagonist was endearing, the setting was mysterious and wonderful, and Sloan made it clear from the get-go that he was going to intertwine narrative and theme throughout the novel. It toes the blurred lines of the new-generation, ruled by technology and computers, and the ‘old’ generation, ruled by print, typography and paper. Ultimately, the book is a modern-day fable with a clear message: the best policy is balance. Sloan does justice to both sides of the debate: the people obsessed with the old ways are too rigid to recognize that technology has means of doing things much quicker, while the skeptics of the new-era-sect fail to recognize that computers are not invincible. But ultimately, I found the second half of the book falling far behind the first. The result was a book that was promising at first, but went downhill.
The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel | 5 stars | Review
This book is, by far, my favorite book of the year. It weaves important, crucial messages that were pertinent in 1984 – when the novel is set – and unfortunately remain relevant even today with a captivating, gripping narrative that will haunt you forever. The characters feel like real people with distinct personalities. The writing is beautiful and atmospheric, and McDaniel alternates between a voice full of innocence during our protagonist’s childhood narrative, and winding complexity when we’re focusing on our protagonist in the future. Uncomfortable, disturbing and deeply provocative, it will not matter if you love this book or hate it: you will not regret having read it, and it will remain with you for a very, very long time.
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | 3.5 stars | Review | Wallpapers designed by me
The conclusion to the Raven Cycle was far from perfect, but it was one hell of an enjoyable read. I’ve always felt that Stiefvater’s strongest feat as a writer is her ability to construct such wonderful, distinct characters who feel like friends rather than fictional people on paper. And while the characterization was as tremendous as ever, the plot largely fell flat. Stiefvater was throwing her readers several things to juggle at the same time, and it left me confused and disoriented. The climax and end felt rather rushed, almost like everything was mushed together in the last nine or ten pages. The ultimate pay-off, after all the suspense and drama, wasn’t pleasing. Had it been any other series, 3.5 stars would be a high rating, but since I loved the characters so much and I felt as invested as I did in their lives, 3.5 it is.
Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days) by Susan Ee | 3 stars | Review
Angelfall is perhaps one of the most authentic dystopians I’ve ever read. Often, YA dystopians are toned down, their darkness, death and violence turned down a notch because of the audience it targets. But Susan Ee awards us no such false comforts. Extremely graphic in its vivid descriptions of violence, human experimentation and a post-apocalyptic world, Angelfall seems like the love-child of the biblical portion of Supernatural and the Walking Dead. The writing is entertaining, the world is dark and gritty, and the characters are likable enough. But my main problem lay in the pacing and the romance. I did not feel the pull and connection between Raffe and Penryn, and the first 80% was largely dull and uneventful. The last 20% picked up tremendously, though, and I’m looking forward to what the next novel has in store for me.
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R. R. Martin – Reread | 3.5 stars
A Clash of Kings is, perhaps, my least favorite in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It is mostly filler, and sets the stage for the huge, large-scale events to come in the next book, A Storm of Swords, which is most definitely my favorite in the series. There is a lot of deliberation and introspection, dialogue and planning in this one. We are introduced to new houses and characters and old characters are developed further, but not many truly monumental events take place. Despite it being filler, this book is still wonderfully written with vivid world-building and brilliant characterization.
Splintered (Splintered #1) by A. G. Howard | 1 star | Review
This book was one of the nine books I’ve ever abandoned in all my years of reading. There were so many problems with this novel that became apparent from the very beginning. Our main character is made out to be a unique “special snowflake,” but there’s nothing unique about her except for the fact that she resorts to blatant cultural appropriation to stand out. The two potential love interests are horrible people: one is controlling and acts like the protagonist’s father under the pretense of care, and the other very literally gets in the protagonist’s head to manipulate and control her, but she feels fuzzy for both of them. Depictions of mental illness are so problematic and add fuel to the fire of a stigmatized and dramatized phenomenon. And just… I can’t. There was just so much wrong with this book.
The Luxe (The Luxe #1) by Anna Godberson | 2 stars | Review
Often marketed as Gossip Girl set in the nineteenth century, you’d expect a story about a privileged society, about drama and the ugliness that simmers beneath the glamorous surface. Instead, what I came across was an incredibly lackluster novel with virtually no real plot, more angst than I could digest, and characters that felt like caricatures of every trope out there. Instead of exploring the ugliness of the top 1%, the Luxe focuses solely on one woman’s loveless arranged marriage to a guy. The romance might have been interesting had it not been literally the main plot. And again, if this were a romance novel, I wouldn’t have minded it if the characters weren’t throwing away their lives for the sake of one boy or another. Godberson’s technique of writing was pretty good- it didn’t feel overcomplicated, nor juvenile but a good balance between simplicity and complexity. But there was little else of merit in the book. I think it’s safe to say that I will not be continuing on with the series.
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy | 2 stars | Review
Side Effects May Vary is a bold debut in more ways than one. In a world where there exist a plethora of books revolving around cancer where our main characters are good, sweet, fragile people who did no harm yet were hurt by life comes a book where the main character is a bitch, full stop. Alice is obviously an unlikable protagonist, and it’s mean to be that way, but our other character, Harvey, is rather despicable too- in a more subtle way. To center a story around two unlikable characters is an incredible feat, but alas, the thought was one of the only things working. I did not feel a connect with the characters, and the plot focused on teenage angst and romance rather than a bucket list or the character’s recovery from cancer, which is what the synopsis seems to suggest.
Nevernight (ARC) by Jay Kristoff | 2 stars | Review
I hate comparing two stories or two characters together, simply because there’s so much content in the world that no work can be completely original. But Mia Corvere’s story was too close to Arya Stark’s for comfort: their backgrounds were similar, their motives and personalities were similar, their journeys were similar, so much so that I could predict what was going to happen next. I’m not saying Kristoff plagiarized Arya- just that I was familiar with a similar storyline, which made the plot not as endearing as it was to other people. I didn’t much care for the characters either since I felt they were too perfect and lacked depth. But my main problem lay in the writing: too many metaphors, too much purple prose; it just felt like it was trying too hard to sound lyrical, but ended up reading gimicky.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl | 2 stars | Review coming soon
I was very excited going into this book, because I’m a huge sucker for thrillers during the summer months. But it wasn’t really what I had expected it to be – rather than a thriller, it was mainly a mystery, a genre that I’m not really into. The pacing felt off: sometimes it would pick up, be exciting and fast-paced and wonderful. Other times, it would come to a screeching halt with little to no action. Some of the revelations thrown at me seemed rather lame, and the narrative was changing its mind right and left. I needed some stability, some answers which I didn’t receive. It was too long, too winding, too confusing. I did, however, grow to really love the characters, and the premise was interesting enough to give it a 2-star rating.
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany | 5 stars | Review coming soon
The Cursed Child was definitely my most anticipated book of the year, and unlike many other people, I did not turn the last page disappointed. I loved the story. I flew through it in under four hours; the new characters introduced were wonderful and had such strong voices, and the old characters had changed so much and it was interesting to map out the past 22 years in my own head. It was vastly different from the previous Harry Potter books- obviously, since it wasn’t written by Rowling and nor is it a novel, but it was still a worthy, magical read. I know it’s daunting, especially since we all had sky-high expectations, which is why I constructed a guide that may help you avoid disappointment going into the script.
Blogging Wrap Up
As I mentioned earlier, this was a great blogging month for me. I’m currently on a three-week posting streak (!!!), which is insane because I’ve never been this on top of my blogging game since, well, ever. Here’s everything I posted this month:
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi | Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | Angelfall by Susan Ee | Splintered by A. G. Howard | The Luxe by Anna Godberson | Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy | Nevernight by Jay Kristoff | The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel |
Negative Reviews and why you shouldn’t apologize for them | Delayed releases: worth criticizing or should we just shut up? | How to read the Cursed Child: a short manual to help you avoid disappointment | #PotterheadJuly: Severus Snape – hero or villain?