Monthly Recap // June ’17

Here we are – saying goodbye to the first half of the year, and marveling at the fact that half of 2017 is already gone. I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say that I genuinely feel like it was yesterday that I was on Hermosa Beach in Los Angeles, watching pathetic fireworks go off in the sky after the New Year’s countdown. But that’s how it is; time’s been passing by in the snap of two fingers.


P E R S O N A L


I hope June was a great month for all of you – whether that’s personal, blogging or reading goals. I had a wonderful month with some hiccups here and there, as it goes, but this was the first proper month that I got to unwind after my junior year. Although it wasn’t terribly busy (I was mostly lazying around the house, reading books, watching YouTube videos and the like), my mood levels were elevated significantly; thus, I had a nice, relaxing month.

☽ Most of you know by now that I went to Book Expo this month. It was such a wonderful experience, and it gave me a lot to think about regarding my career choices and the like, but that’s a tale for another day – meanwhile, you can check out my haul.

☽ Most of you also might know that I’m slightly (very) obsessed with Zayn, who launched his fashion line with Versace this month. He was supposed to have a launch in New York City – he would attend, mingle with the fans and all. I was so, so excited that I managed to get a wristband to go to the event; unfortunately it was canceled. Either way, I got to hang out with a couple of people I’ve met on Twitter by being in the fandom – it was a good day despite the ultimate disappointment!

☽ I had fallen out of touch with my best friend the past few months – I hadn’t spoken to him in almost six months, which was a strange feeling. Almost like there was something constantly missing in my life. He’s been my best friend since the seventh grade; for almost ten years, we’ve trusted each other with most everything. I think a lot of it was our egos getting in the way after the little falling out we had… but I finally put some of that arrogance aside and reached out to him. Having him back in my life feels nice, even if it’s a little weird talking to him after almost half a year, ha.

☽ Cricket isn’t a big deal in the US, I’m aware, but an international championship was underway in June, and Pakistan was one of the eight teams competing. My parents and I are massive about cricket when it comes to big Pakistani matches, so we spent most of the month watching those – it ended up being worth it, though, because WE WON! My parents still tell me about a time when Pakistan’s cricket team was invincible; unfortunately, for many reasons, that era was lost… but it seems like better days might be coming, and that makes me incredibly excited.


R E A D I N G


June was probably the best reading month I’ve had in a very long time, both in quantity and quality. I enjoyed most everything I read with a few exceptions, and I didn’t dislike anything – which is new, considering how picky of a reader I am. I’m SO behind on reviews, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up in July! But given the pace I’m reading at right now, I think I’ll fall even further behind. We’ll see!

M I S ( H ) A D R A  ( A R C )

B Y  I A S M I N  A T A  O M A R

Mis(h)adra is a graphic novel telling the story of an Arab-American college student’s experiences living with epilepsy. It’s #OwnVoices in the way that both the author and the main character are Arab and are epileptic; it’s an incredibly moving story about the importance of having support systems in the form of families and friends to trudge through difficult times. Epilepsy was, and remains, a misunderstood illness, and though it was difficult to read sometimes given some of the graphic imagery, it was still an incredibly profound reading experience. I do wish that it had been longer, and the art style of my ARC was black and white, and I don’t think the graphic novel is meant to be read in black and white, which worked against its favor. Ultimately, I gave the book a three out of five stars. 

Trigger warnings apply for self-harm and suicidal ideations.

Mis(h)adra releases on October 3rd, 2017.

L I G H T E R  T H A N  M Y  S H A D O W  ( A R C )

B Y  K A T I E  G R E E N

Lighter Than My Shadow is a graphic memoir about the author’s experiences with anorexia in her adolescence and young adulthood. It’s heart-wrenching in its unflinching portrayal of eating disorders, as well as how deeply abuse by a therapist can exacerbate someone vulnerable’s illness. The art style is simple and uncomplicated, which works in the book’s favor, taking absolutely nothing away from the hard-hitting subject matter. It’s captivating, it’s moving, and it’s important. I gave this book a three and a half out of five stars.

Trigger warnings apply for suicidal ideations and graphic depictions of eating disorders, as well as sexual and emotional abuse.

E N D  O F  D A Y S  ( A N G E L F A L L  I I I )

B Y  S U S A N  E E

Susan Ee’s Angelfall series ends with a bang in End of Days. I was sad to let go of these characters that crept into my heart without me even realizing it; the finale was action-packed throughout with Susan Ee stretching her imagination to the utmost capacity. This series was one that I was unsure of at first, yet I loved both the second and third books, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, delicious reads full of horror and the paranormal. Look out for my trilogy review, which should be up very soon!

Trigger warnings apply for graphic violence.

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W A N T

B Y  C I N D Y  P O N

Thought-provoking books are some of my favorites, and what’s more thought-provoking than a futuristic novel that shows you how hellish the world will be if we keep going the way we are right now. Want is set in a near-future, over-polluted Taipei where society is fragmented to the point where the elite and the poorer classes have drastically different mortality rates. I adored this book – from the setting to the characters to the messages it seemed to be imparting. If you’re interested in my full thoughts, I posted a full review. I gave this book a four out of five stars.

release

R E L E A S E  ( A R C )

B Y  P A T R I C K  N E S S

Release was perhaps my favorite book of the month, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering how deeply in love I am with Patrick Ness’s stories. It was a beautiful story blending the ordinary and the extraordinary, telling the tale of a young gay teenage boy and his experiences with romance, family, friends, religion and himself. It places so much emphasis on vulnerability and the teenage experience, and how everything we feel isn’t invalid like we’re so often told it is, just because we’re young. I’ll be recommending this book for the rest of the year (if not longer) so prepare yourselves. For my full thoughts, read my review, and I gave this book four and a half out of five stars.

Trigger warnings apply for murder, drug abuse, and homophobia.

Release releases (lol) on September 19th, 2017, while it’s already out in the UK.

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A L W A Y S  &  F O R E V E R ,  L A R A  J E A N

B Y  J E N N Y  H A N

Man, this series turned out to be such a disappointment, and I truly hate saying that because I adore the first book. But I constantly found myself asking, “What is the point?” while reading the third and final installment. I had thought that it would be a step-up from the second book (which I really disliked), but… nothing happens. There is virtually no plot, and it could have been condensed to a few chapters and tacked onto the end of book two. I hate saying that, but it is how it is. Watch out for a full trilogy review in the near future. I gave this book two out of five stars.

mask of shadows shelf

M A S K  O F  S H A D O W S  ( A R C )

B Y  L I N S E Y  M I L L E R

This was another wonderful, wonderful read for the month. I was highly anticipating this book, and I’m so grateful to Sourcebooks for sending a copy my way, and I’ll definitely be reviewing it closer to the release date; I loved the diversity of this story. We follow a genderfluid main character, Sal, who enters an assassin tournament to become part of the queen’s Left Hand, so Sal can take revenge from the nobles that razed their homeland when they were a child. It’s exciting in the way that most assassin and tournament stories are, but fresh because of the multifaceted and unique main character, the care and detail going into the tournament itself, as well as the skilled writing. I gave this book a four out of five stars.

Trigger warnings apply for purposeful misgendering from antagonists, and brief depictions of self-harm.

Mask of Shadows releases on August 29th, 2017.

and i darken

A N D  I  D A R K E N

B Y  K I E R S T E N  W H I T E

I had put off reading And I Darken for a long while now, but I have no clue why because I adored this book! It’s the perfect book for us Slytherins full of betrayal, deceit, cunning and ambitious characters. Lada was such a delight to read about in all her twisted, sharp glory, and I appreciated the research White put into constructing a historical version of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the care and respect she injected into the several discussions about Islam in the book. It was well-written, well-researched and well-executed, and I cannot wait to read the next book. I gave this book a four out of five stars.

Trigger warnings apply for some graphic violence.

T H E  S T A R – T O U C H E D  Q U E E N

B Y  R O S H A N I  C H O K S H I

The Star-Touched Queen was a book I had high hopes for, considering it’s a historical fantasy set in the Indian subcontinent, and really, how many of those do we have? There was a lot going for this book: beautiful writing, vivid, whimsical (albeit confusing) world-building, and culture infused into every single page. However, the characters and romance largely fell flat for me – I couldn’t take our main character, Maya, seriously at all, and I was too “wait what?” to fully appreciate the world-building as it existed. I do still plan on reading the sequel, so watch out for a duology review once I get around to that. I gave this book two out of five stars.

F L A M E  I N  T H E  M I S T

B Y  R E N E E  A H D I E H

Renée Ahdieh became one of my auto-buy authors after the success of her debut duology, and it’s safe to say that I went into Flame in the Mist with many expectations. However, I felt let down by the lack of chemistry in basically all the relationships. I liked the characters well enough, and the writing was as beautiful as ever, but there was no spark in any of the relationships except the main romance. Moreover, I’ve heard from Japanese reviewers that the representation of Japanese culture isn’t accurate and rather appropriative, so I knocked off points for that too. I might be writing a quick review soon, but I’m not yet sure. I gave this book a three out of five stars.


T V  A N D  M U S I C


I spent the last few days of June binge-watching The Keepers on Netflix. It’s a documentary compiled by two elderly women who take it upon themselves to ‘solve’ the murder of a nun that occurred in 1969. What they find is shocking in its disturbing darkness. It serves as a mystery, as well as an exposé of sorts – how the Catholic church, the police and the school districts in Baltimore covered up a priest’s horrendous crimes, leaving his young victims traumatized and afraid, and – it seems like – a young woman who found out killed. It’s addictive, but horrifying for obvious reasons. Trigger warnings apply for graphic detailing of rape, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and murder.

The music I’ve been listening to is varied, from pop to moody alt pop-rock, as well as whatever it is that Imagine Dragons make. Check out some of my favorite tracks from the month:


So that’s it for my rather long June wrap-up. I hope you enjoyed the post, and had as great a month as I did. Let me know in the comments what your favorite book of the month is, as well as one song that you’ve had on repeat for a long time.

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Comments

  1. Mask of Shadows is a pretty fun book and the gender fluid MC was quite unique and interesting. I’m glad you liked it – can’t wait to see how much more hype this book gets as the release date draws closer!

  2. I want to read Mask of Shadows so bad !
    I was disappointed by P.S I Still Love You. You’re completely right, the first book was great because of the situation she was in but after the letter problem was solved there isn’t any point to continue the serie. A stand-alone would’ve been better.

    • Mask of Shadows releases fairly soon, I think, and I really hope you read and love it! I honestly wish I could go back in time and stop after reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! I loved that book so much, and the lackluster sequels have ruined that for me too. 🙁

  3. Aah, ALL THE BEAUTIFUL BOOKS. I am so envious of your bookish photography! It sounds like you had a great month for reading. *nods* I really want to read Want & And I Darken because they sound very rad. I enjoyed the first Lara Jean book (I don’t know what the series is called?) but I don’t think I’ve read the others haha. I’ve been loving Lorde’s Melodrama album this last month!

    • AGH, thank you so much! Taking photographs of books takes a ridiculously long time, but it’s a nice hobby to have, I think! WANT and AND I DARKEN are both incredible starters to what seem to be incredible series! To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before works GREAT as a stand-alone, I think. If I had the choice, I’d go back in time and leave it there. 😜

  4. Gah, such STUNNING photos, Aimal! I love the new theme change with the pictures (though I think you’ve changed it for a few months now?); the colors are so vibrant which is perfect for season. Also, I just checked out your Book Expo haul and, wow, so epic! I’m incredibly jealous but super happy you got to pick up some great titles. I’m glad to hear that Release was as good as you hoped it to be. (I feel ashamed that I still have not read any Ness, by the way.)

    Anyway, I hope that you have a fabulous July! The summer heat has been so unforgiving in SC. Hopefully it isn’t as bad in NY, but stay cool. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Summer! It’s been a while since I changed it up, yes, but I’ve been slacking on blogging so it’s understandable that many people are just seeing it now 😜 And le gasp, how have you not read any Ness yet?! Get on it – he’s so, so good!

      Ugh, summer’s been pretty humid and nasty in NYC. And thanks bb, I hope you have a wonderful rest of your summer too! 💖

    • Mask of Shadows really was such, such a fun, delightful read! Like you, I read it in just a day or two.

  5. Ahh sounds like you had an eventful, but great month Aimal!! Sorry about the Zayn event being cancelled, but I’m glad something good came from it. I’ve lost touch with friends before too and I know how difficult that reaching out stage can be so I’m glad things are working out for you at the moment! Cricket is pretty big in Australia but it’s not something I’ve really got into, but as someone obsessed with football I totally get your feelings towards it. It’s so great that Pakistan won 🎉

    I couldn’t really get into The Star Touched Queen either. I really loved the mythology, but the characters and romance fell flat for me too. I’ve heard A Crown of Wishes is better though, so fingers crossed!!

    I’m loving Lorde’s new album. I’ve REALLY gotta give the new Imagine Dragons a listen.

    Like always, beautiful wrap up post 😍 Your photos are stunning!!

    • Losing touch with friends is the worst, especially when it’s someone you’ve been so close to. Sorry you’ve had that experience too; I’m determined to not go through it again.

      Yes, same with TSTQ! I loved the vivid world-building, and Chokshi’s writing is so darn beautiful but I was confused throughout, haha. I’m still interested in ACOW, like you, because I’ve heard brilliant things from people who didn’t like the first book much.

      Thank you so much, Lauren – for stopping by and your kind words. 💖

  6. I’m glad your month in reading went so well! Release is on my TBR and I’ve just discovered it’s in my library so I’m pretty excited to pick it up. The only book on your list I have read is the wonderfully vicious And I Darken. I agree with your appreciation of the research because it seems do in depth and complex, and not a light interpretation of historical events as I expected.

    • Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy Release when you get to it! Exactly – I had expected AND I DARKEN to be a fluffy, light historical fantasy but it was incredibly rich. I can’t wait to get to the sequel soon!

  7. AHA looks like you had SUCH an amazing month Aimal! You read so many incredible books this month which are on my TBR like Want and Release! Sorry to hear you didn’t love TSTQ but I agree, I had fairly similar thoughts with it where the writing style was poetic but jarring and I was struggling to keep up with what was happening!

    • Ah, I’m glad you agree with me about TSTQ – it has such wonderful reviews that I thought I was missing something. I’m still really interested in reading A Crown of Wishes though! Thanks for stopping by, Anisha!

  8. Great to hear that you are back in touch with your best friend. They can leave such a hole. I was dissapointed in Flame in the Mist as well. 🙁 Mask of Shadows sounds so good.

    • Yeah, Flame in the Mist was a let-down; I had really expected better after how much I adored her first series. Mask of Shadows is wonderful! I hope you get to it once it releases!

  9. It sounds like you had a great month!! These books all look super interesting.
    I listened to Lorde’s “Writer in the Dark” and loved it, which is amusing because it’s not something I’d normally love.
    I just want to say I am swooning over how gorgeous your blog is!! This is what I aspire to be! :D.

    • I did – thank you so much! Lorde is AMAZING. I love how different her music is to everything else on the radio. And thank you so, so much for your lovely words! It took me years to finally get to a point where I was fully satisfied with my blog, so this means a lot to me. You’ll get to your goals too. 💖

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