Uncategorized · wrap up

September/October 2017 Wrap Up

The way things are going I don’t think I’m going to make my Goodreads challenge which is actually sort of a foreign concept to me. I’ve read 48 books so far this year and am 10 books behind schedule if I want to reach my goal of 70 for 2017. It’s fine with me since I got to do a lot of rereading these past two months.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

17347383POA is that turning point in young Harry’s life when he is starting to grow up and realizing more about the circumstances of his birth and seeing that people are not always what they seem. I think that is one of the sure signs of growing up when you start to see the gray areas in morality. HP 3 is not my favorite book but I do think it has the best mystery to it. I still think the mystery and machinations surrounding Sirius Black were so well thought out. I’m not surprised JK Rowling went on to write crime novels because her mysteries are excellent. And to me, they are excellent because she creates the rules within this magical world and then uses those careful rules she created and breaks them in clever and unexpected ways. This is definitely the middle book between the lightness f the last two books and the dark. And side note, who doesn’t love the Marauder’s Map and the Time Turner?

Solanin by Asano Inio

Solanin is a millennial’s book. It is about a girl named Meiko who

3430763works a desk job and lives with her depressed boyfriend, Naruo who writes the sports column for a newspaper. One day she quits her desk job spending the next year figuring out what she really wants to do. Now this book is one long homage to existential crisis that every 20 some year old experiences. The quotes are melancholy with a slight tinge of the dramatic, it feels more like melting pot of poignant and Tumblr-y ideas than a story about characters. It feels like a pointless ramble rather than a quiet coming of age story. I never got to know the secondary characters well enough for me to truly understand them as anything other than props for the main characters and the main characters I didn’t know well enough to really attach to.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

I’ve found myself more and more critical of the YA category and nothing in this category 29283884really feels satisfying these days, although maybe I should give these books more than a couple of pages.  But I really enjoyed the Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue almost from the get go and it succeeds by finding the perfect tone of a historical comedy. The tone imbues our hedonistic and crass main character, Henry Montague, and the secondary foils that accompany him on his journey. It is so fun but Lee doesn’t just skim over the historical context. The thing I admire the most about a book is its dedication to consistent characters. I love Henry’s relationship with Percy, and the flashbacks to their past were some of the most heartwarming moments. Henry struggles to find who he is and face the demons of inadequacy he has always ran away from. He is on a whirlwind tour of Europe but he realizes when he comes home he must face his future of running the estate and figuring out how he’s going to manage his father’s expectations when they might be the opposite of what he wants. I also really liked Felicity’s character. Her sensibility and practicality were the perfect foils to Percy and Henry (although it seems like sensible and practical are practically the staples of too many female characters these days). I really appreciated the diverse range of social commentary Lee inputted in this. She gave these issues of racism, sexism, and disability their due with grace and subtle nuance. The plot is a whirlwind of 18th century European history and antique sites, debauchery, and hijinks.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

I’ve sincerely forgotten how depressing this book is and slightly repetitive. I felt it sort of lagged somewhere in the middle. It’s interesting to see how much sketchiness is allowed17347381 to happen at Hogwarts which I suppose is part of its charm. Also, rereading this as 23 year old, I have to laugh at how much more I understand the dynamics of Harry and Cho’s first date at Hogsmeade. The things Harry does is kind of cringeworthy. It’s so great. I will forever and always love the Room of Requirement and the DA. I think I liked the concept of resistance and taking action in the face of Umbridge and a tumultuous political environment. It’s interesting how well it holds up with time. The ending of this book always makes me shed some tears. I think it’s the fact that I see Dumbledore, this previously infallible person, actually being vulnerable because of his capacity to love. This trait establishes itself as his biggest strength but also his biggest weakness. I also found it quite funny what characters the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers are with really the only relatively normal one being Lupin. But the other ones are kind of wack jobs and it’s so interesting how even if they are kind of unrealistic, they are so completely relatable as extensions of people you might now.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

If there is one flaw these books have, in my opinion, it is the romances. They have never 17347380and will never make sense to me. I’ve never shipped Ron and Hermione nor Harry and Ginny. I have, however, developed a sudden liking towards Hermione and Draco, a paring that actually sounds so perfect now that I think about it. It includes two of my favorite romantic tropes: opposites attract and hate to love. But whatever, my favorite part of HBP is learning about Voldemort’s past and this clever concept of Horcruxes. Voldemort definitely has an old school villain feel to him. I feel if he were a character written in the present, people would criticize his character for being too unambiguous and being evil for the sake of being evil but it’s a universal story simply because of this tale of good vs evil so it doesn’t bother me. I feel that if someone made Horcruxes irl though, he/she would be very difficult to defeat just based on this sheer amount of objects you can use. Ron is a little insufferable in this one and again, the amount of times that Harry is accidentally right is kind of astounding. The ending was very disheartening when I first read it and still is esp when you realize that this book has descended right into the darkness.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Every time I reread HP 7, I gain more and more appreciation for it. When I first read it, IImage result for harry potter and the deathly hallows new book cover was kind of frustrated with how much Dumbledore was in it. And I thought there would be something more to it but I’ve grown to really like the insight into Dumbledore’s past. It casts a lot of doubt into Harry’s blind following of Dumbledore and makes this idea of finding Horcruxes a seemingly impossible quest. Why didn’t Dumbledore tell him more about the Horcruxes? Who even was he? But if we don’t listen to Dumbledore, how do we defeat Voldemort? It must have been hard to write a satisfying ending to one of the greatest book series of all time and even harder to write an ending that feels satisfying after we’ve spend so long trying to figure out how to defeat the greatest dark wizard of all time. Needless to say though, I was satisfied and am still satisfied at the way things turned out. It felt epic and final without feeling convenient or rushed. I have mixed feelings about the epilogue though.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

9630403Level Up is a graphic memoir about a guy who loves to play games and throughout the memoir battles whether to assuage his father’s wishes or follow his own dreams. This is a very standard follow your parents’ expectations for you or follow your own goals and it neither offers a poignant resolution nor a different take on the subject. It was, therefore, ultimately forgettable. I can’t really even recommend it to gamers because the references are barely there.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

I’ve noticed with the concept of feminism in YA and 33163378mainstream media, feminism is a game of “catch the bad guy and everyone lives happily ever after”. In Moxie, Vivian is sick of her small town school’s sexist codes and the sexist football players and the sexist principal. While it is admirable and inspirational that she start taking action to end the ingrained sexism in her school I found that that the feminism ended up being more of the feel good type as the girls got the football players and the principal evicted from the school. And while it does not ignore the blood, sweat, and tears that go into protesting and trying to change people’s perspectives, the book ignores the fact that these tools are not just to evict sexist pigs and have a feel good victory. The problem with this is that it puts the sole blame of societal sexism on a few bad apples while ignoring the injustice of the system that created these bad apples and many more to come. It’s about making lasting changes. What would have been more effective in my opinion is making changes to the school’s dress code or having these people change their minds about feminism. The romance was so cheesy and sort of sickeningly sweet and eye roll worthy really. This is a nice introduction for younger readers about modern sexist microaggressions but for veterans I suggest a hard pass.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952Oh man, Leigh Bardugo continues to impress me more and more since her lackluster Shadow of Bone trilogy. You don’t have to read the Shadow and Bone trilogy to fully enjoy this one but I think you just might miss a few Easter eggs. Essentially, The Language of Thorns is a collection of short fairy tales set in the Grisha world. Bardugo effortlessly subverts our perceptions of the way fairy tales are told to us and the stereotypes and trappings of the fairy tale canon. I really like the way she handles the retellings of the fairy tales in fresh but vivid ways. My favorite one is the first one which challenges the roles that princesses, kings, queens, and monsters are relegated to and upends them. The illustration alongside these are also beautiful so the hardcover would be so worth buying.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong27746288

This is a quiet literary novel about a woman going back to live with her mom and dad. Her fiance has just left her and her dad has Alzheimer’s. This is altogether about the absurdity of life. It is humorous in a dry but touching way. It follows a diary format as she comes to terms with how best to help her father. A lot is revealed about the secondary characters for such a short book like her father’s infidelity, her mother’s guilt, and her brother’s unwillingness to give in. It’s strikes more touching than anything illuminating about the Alzheimer’s or the people with Alzheimer’s. I felt it didn’t go quite far enough with the portrayal of Alzheimers but it is a short, quick read for a lazy afternoon.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

17347384Reading the later books and then going back to earlier ones just amplifies the sense of innocence that pervaded the characters. Oh, the days when Malfoy being Slytherin’s keeper was on the top of everyone’s worry list. I particularly liked the whole section of the Polyjuice Potion. What troublemakers they were even in the second year and Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the funniest teachers Dumbledore has ever employed. I’ve also noticed in the later books, when Harry stays with the Weasleys, it gets more and more angsty and depressing compared to his stay here which was full of cute fun including gnome throwing and flying cars.

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal

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An American Sickness was such an eye opening book on the American healthcare system. Over the past few years, I’ve become extremely jaded about American healthcare and this book felt like justification. It covers topics such as why the pharmaceutical companies make so much money, medical billing, insurance companies, and the hidden fees in hospital billing. It’s quite frustrating the way that making a profit is more desirable nowadays than actually taking care of people. It’s even more sad when you realize how dysfunctional the system is. The book is incredibly digestable but is full of facts and statistics as well as heartbreaking anecdotes. I also like that it includes resources and ways that you can improve the healthcare system and hold it accountable for your health.

I believe my favorites of this batch were definitely The Language of Thorns and An American Sickness aside from my favorites of the Harry Potter series which should come to no one’s surprise. I don’t have any specific plans for the rest of the reading year and will read as it pertains to my mood.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

April Wrap Up 2017

April was a pretty awesome reading month for me. I think this is the most I’ve read this month than I have in the earlier months of 2017. I DNFed a few things but read 9 books and 2 short stories.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (3/5)

Faulkner has an interesting narrative style. He writes this from several different Image result for as i lay dying bookperspectives but sometimes the character will refer to another character solely by the pronoun, he, and you kind of have to read the next perspective  to confirm who the character was even talking about. While this does increase the fluidity of the story, it also lends to a lot of confusion on my part. This book was both successful and not successful in portraying grief and I think that boils down to certain characters. It seemed like Faulkner liked some characters more than others. For instance, Jewel is probably the most compelling character in the entire cast. His attitudes towards his mother remain ambiguous even till the end and his independence-to-a-fault was really interesting to read. The other interesting character was the father and though he may respect his wife’s dying wish, we all know he is long past caring about her. Faulkner also does a good job portraying the grief of a child, the way they want to transform that grief into something tangible. But the other characters felt disposable. As far as satire goes, the ending was fucking hilarious. But overall, it was quite meh.

By Prudence Ruled by ehmazing (4/5)

I don’t know why I’m including fanfiction in my wrap up but I am because I never read fanfiction, like, ever. This is how you know I’ve really descended into fandom hell. TBH Related imageI’m simultaneously proud and ashamed to be in the Voltron fandom. It’s literally the most toxic fandom I’ve ever been in, there’s like 50 ship wars, ship hate every hour, and just general no-mercy attitude and bashing of the creators and writers. I just hope the VLD staff do not go through the Tumblr tags. But simultaneously I’m proud of the fandom because earlier last week, there was a photo leak from the show from a newly casted voice actor and she accidently posted a photo from the upcoming season and she deleted it from her instagram story but it was way too late. I swear people in fandom actually make the best detectives. ANYWAYS, this fanfiction follows my non-canon (so far) OTP Shiro and Allura. By Prudence Ruled is one of the most well-researched and accurate-to-the-characters fanfiction I’ve ever read in my basically non-existent fanfic history. It just captures the character’s voices so well and it’s inspired by The Bodyguard so I mean that speaks for itself. Also, it’s really well-researched in terms of worldbuilding which I really appreciate.

Related imageThis is My Idea by Teukiewookie (3/5)

Does anyone remember the movie The Swan Princess?

Well this fic is based on the movie except in space and with Voltron characters.  It is so fun and relatively accurate in character voice as far as surface-level character goes but not so different as to disengage me from the story. Plus the chapters are short so..

 

 

These next few books, I will have reviews for.

In my 2017 reading resolutions, I resolved to read more translated fiction and I made my first few steps this month. The first ones I will be doing mini reviews for in my translated fiction spotlight.

Silence by Shusaku Endo, Translated from the Japanese by William Johnston | Before the Feast by Sasa Stanisic, Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

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I also read some translated short stories that will be featured in the mentioned post as well.

Wither and Blossom by Suvi Kauppila translated by Suvi Kauppila (4/5)

Faces and Thoughts by Abdul Wakil Sulamal translated from Pashto by James Caron (3.5/5)

I also finished History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (4/5) which I actually wasn’t planning on reading but ended up loving. I will have a full review on this in May. Just expect a lot of YA contemporary in the upcoming future period.

And then I have reviews for two YA books I read this month in a mini review post.

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

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The Girls by Emma Cline (2/5)

The Girls shines when Cline discusses the intricacies of girlhood. She does it so well and because of that I wish the whole book was solely focused on that. What does it feel 26893819like to come into adolescence wanting to own your body but at the same time wanting to feel desired and be desirable.

 That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

But honestly, everything else was just kind of boring. This is ironic because this book was suppose to be about the mysterious Manson murders. One of the most compelling characters was suppose to be Charles (or whatever his name is) who we are suppose to believe is this really alluring person who persuades these girls to leave everything they have but he turned out to be kind of boring and predictable as were the other characters. I will say that Cline really knows how to write. Her writing is intoxicating and feels like reading through the subconscious. It feels very Gone-Girlesque. But all in all, I would not recommend this one.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (3.5/5)

Ted Chiang has some really cool ideas–both visually and scientifically which translates very well to a movie like The Arrival (based off of Stories of Your Life). But I wish there 31625351was better execution of these ideas. Most of his stories feel unfinished as if he suddenly had a good idea and had to write it down but didn’t know where the thought was going. They also feel like unfinished ideas because he sort of left them to meander on their own so a few of them lacked focus. But nevertheless they were still fascinating to read. My favorite stories were the first one, The Tower of Babylon, which is about people building a tower to reach heaven; Stories of Your Life which visually was better represented by the movie but the story itself was better in the book, and the last story Like What You See: A Documentary which is about a fictional debate about whether or not to undergo a procedure to “unsee” beauty. I still think this collection is definitely worth reading because his stories just raise so many thought provoking questions about religion, technology, mathematics, and linguistics.

Planetfall by Emma Newman (3.5/5)

A mysterious man enters the one and only colony on Planetfall. Renata Ghali is shocked and terrified because the colony she lives in is suppose to be the only home to any living inhabitants on this planet. It turns out that this man is the grandson of Suh-Mi who was 24237785the leader of the first colonization trip to Planetfall. As we get further into the book, we realize there is a lot more to this colony that we initially thought and that Renata is keeping a lot of secrets from the people around her. I will tell you this from the start: nothing will really make sense until the last 20 percent of the book and even the last page leaves off on an ambiguous note which I’m still not sure if I understand but that’s totally ok with me. I often found myself wondering why the author was focusing so much one aspect of this character and other times why the plot seemed to be falling apart and it only made sense to me after finishing the book. I really liked the worldbuilding in this book. There’s lots of mentions of 3D printing and building houses which just reminded me of the Sims. The biggest issue with this book are the characters. They felt so two-dimensional and can be listed off with a few traits. The ending was satisfactory to me but I get the feeling that if it wasn’t it would’ve marred the entire experience of reading this book for me so make your own judgement about that. I will say that I haven’t read a lot of science fiction mysteries/thrillers if any at all so this was refreshing.

DNF

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (2/5)31395274

As you may have noticed by now, I’m really picky when it comes to contemporary romances. I thought the banter between the two characters was kitschy and super tacky and the “hating” part of the haters-to-lovers trope was over a little too quickly. The side characters were overly quirky and purely ornamental to the main characters which is just a recipe for a boring story to be honest. I started skimming this around the 50 page mark and it progressively grew cheesier and cheesier to the point of fanfiction so hard pass on this one.

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them and what you plan on reading in May. I hope your May is going well so far and I will see in my next post which will probably be my April Favorites =)

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Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2017 Wrap Up

March was long but in this case that means I got to read more! It was a busy month as well and weirdly enough I read more when I’m busy. I think it’s because reading relaxes but then again if I’m too stressed so it’s a weird balance. I did, however, DNF a couple of books (3). So in total I read 7 books, 2 short stories, and 1 graphic novel.

So the books first:

The Ever Never Handbook by Soman Chainani

 

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3.5/5

The Ever Never Handbook is a companion book to The School for Good and Evil trilogy. This is like the equivalent to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the Harry Potter series. It’s just a little bonus to the original books: how to survive going to this magical school, the course catalog, pictures of the cool creatures that reside there, school fashion and all that. I was kind of confused reading this book because there are excerpts of the characters sending letters and transcripts of characters talking to each other and they mention events that have not happened. So, at first, I thought cool, it’s a bit of an epilogue except the events that are happening are kind of depressing. One of the letters included is even “cut off” so you don’t know what happens after so that was rude. And then I look on Goodreads and found out there was gonna be a fourth book…(just as I was beginning to applaud myself for finishing one series in my life). But after reading the handbook, I realize I’m nostalgic for Sophie’s and Agatha’s world and want to go back to it again so at the end of the day, I’m happy there’s a 4th book but we’ll see.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld25852870

I had high hopes for this modern Pride and Prejudice retelling but alas, it was pretty disappointing. However, I do like the wry and tongue in cheek writing as well as the fast-paced nature of the book. It’s the sort of book I could finish in one sitting if I wanted to. It also made me nostalgic for P&P retellings so I immediately went and rewatched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries afterwards and I had a lot of feelings so, in true Carolyn-fashion, I rant about them here.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134I was excited for this one ever since I first heard about it because it’s written like a fairy tale and it revolves around Russian mythology. Vasya’s family worships the house spirits but when her mother dies and a priest tries to convert everyone to a religion of one god, the village starts to erupt in chaos and only Vasya’s magical powers can help. The writing is atmospheric and promises mysteries and magic at every turn. However, because it was written like a fairy tale, the secondary characters, including the stepmother, the priest, and Vasya’s father all came out to be pretty cliche. Also, the pacing was so off. Plotlines were brought up and then dropped until the second half of the book where one plotline was followed till the end. I really liked the fantastical elements such as the blending of Russian mythological creatures. I also found the author’s note to be sort of problematic; you can take creative liberties with a story but alternating Russian words because it’s not aesthetically pleasing is a different story. It could have been better but it wasn’t necessarily bad. I’ll definitely be looking out for Arden’s future works.

Human Acts by Han Kang

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In short, Han Kang has cemented herself as an auto-read author for me. My mini review here.

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

I just burnt bread this afternoon so you can tell how much of a cook I am but I checked25614711 this out because I love Korean food. Vietnamese food is great but there is something so communal and aesthetically pleasing about Korean food, not to mention the variety in color and type of food. What’s great about this cookbook is that there’s such a variety of recipes but each is prefaced by a little history or tidbit about the food and information about the different ingredients themselves. There’s also interviews with chefs who cook with Korean food, celebrities who love Korean food, and restaurant owners who cook a fusion of Korean and some culture of food. The photos are also really well-made and there’s even full page spreads of Koreatown and the Korean eating experience. I’m not making any of these recipes except for the one that was basically an improved version of how to make your shin ramyun (instant noodles) better but it really made me crave Korean food. Someone get me bibimbap and patbingsu asap.

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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book has an amazing premise. A space ship is on its way to Aurora, its inhabitants23197269 hopeful in being its first colonizers. At the beginning of the book, the ship is on its 150th year in space and there’s still more years to go before they can even reach Aurora. Our main character, Freya, is the daughter of the ship’s chief engineer, Devi. The story sort of follows Freya as she learns to become a leader but it also follows the the ship’s apparently sentient perspective as it details the accounts of the journey. I’m really impressed with Robinson’s knowledge of biology, microbiology, population biology and physics. He does do a lot of infodumping but being the science major that I am, it was all so interesting especially when he explained the mechanics of the ship and its many biomes, how these inhabitants lived in the biomes. As can be expected, this novel is hard science fiction so do not read this if you’re not interested in any of the things I’ve mentioned above. Because it’s hard science fiction, the characters fall to the wayside but he does ask some interesting questions and gives twists to these questions that surprised me. Were we really meant to go beyond Earth given the limitations of our bodies? What happens, after generations of preparation and hope, when your destination is not everything you expected? And how do you fix the mistakes that the people who originally came on the ship didn’t forsee? Why should the generations after be forced to deal with the consequences when they might not have wanted any part of this crusade in the first place? After all, they were ultimately human, greatly ambitious but also inevitably fallible. It’s quite heavy in its scope and size and I found myself forgiving its flaws just because it was so fascinating.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (reread)

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Every once in a while, a very special YA contemporary will come into my life that just does it right. This is one of those series. It’s cute and fluffy to the highest degree but while most YA contemporaries of that nature are at highest 3 stars for me, these two always leave me feeling not just happy but satisfied. I’m planning on doing a reread discussion for these two or a review of the entire trilogy when the third and final book comes out in May! The days cannot go by faster…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Is it better to have been loved, or to love?

Image result for do not say we have nothingThis is the essential question of Madeleine Thien’s historical novel that alternates between the present where Li-Ling and Ai-Ming piece together the story of their fathers and the past where we find out their grandparent’s and parent’s lives during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. As the Revolution grows more and more oppressive, we begin to see how her father and his family try to reconcile their personal passions and to an extent their inner selves and the constant danger of being arrested for being a counter-revolutionary. I really liked the undercurrent of music–particularly the violin and piano–throughout the book, a symbol of private desire. And I really liked reading about this struggle to maintain your identity when your very safety depends on your rejection of it. I also learned a lot about the Revolution in China during the 50’s and 60’s and how the aftereffects of that time period extended all the way to the 80’s and 90’s. I think the characters jumped a little too much from one motivation to another with no buildup in between. The pacing was also abrupt and jumps from one perspective to another with little sense of cohesion. But despite that, definitely worth a read.

Blonde Date (Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina BowenImage result for blonde date sarina bowen

Blonde Date is a NA romance novella that’s a part of Bowen’s NA series but you don’t have to read the previous books to understand this one. It’s about a girl named Katie who is in a sorority and she needs a date to go with her to a party because she has just broken up with her asshole of a boyfriend (for reasons that will be revealed throughout the story). She gets set up with Andy who is a sweet and genuine beta male (can we please have more of these in romance novels?). Diversity in romance is a problem in general but that’s a different story. I really liked that Katie, who would normally be the antagonist in a NA story is instead the protagonist. The dialogue was pretty cliche but it didn’t bother me too much. Blissfully unproblematic, cute, and enjoyable, highly recommended for a lazy afternoon read. I wish there was a full length book on Katie and Andy.

Image result for a series of steaksA Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-min Prasad

Helena Yuanhi makes a living out of 3D printing realistic looking meat. She gets a huge gig printing out steaks for a wedding and she hopes that this gig can give her enough to run away and escape from her past. She enlists the help of Lily whose spontaneous personality serves as the perfect foil to the more quiet and reserved Helen. This short story was so great, It has a slight satirical undertone and it’s quite comedic and just plain enjoyable. I liked the two main characters and their budding friendship and all the mechanics behind the 3D printing. Highly recommended and you can even read it for free here.

 

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollImage result for through the woods

Through the Woods is a collection of horror-ish short stories in graphic novel format. The problem with this was it ended way too soon just when the story was starting to get interested. You know that scene in a horror movie where someone hears a lot of banging or whatever behind a door and they’re just about to open the door. The stories end right when the person is about to open the door which was kind of frustrating. I feel like if she prolonged one or two of these stories, I would have been so much more creeped out and invested. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers who go into the woods and only one of them comes back alive but then the next day, the dead comes back again as if nothing happened.

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DNF

Image result for crosstalk connie willisCrosstalk by Connie Willis

I got about 1/2 of the way through and it had me feeling really claustrophobic which I guess is kind of the point. It’s set in the near future where you can get a surgery that will help you better see your partner’s thoughts. This, in theory, will lead to a happier relationship. It’s a light sci-fi novel with a romcom storyline. I appreciated the numerous references to other social media but at the same time, I felt like they were being referenced by someone who doesn’t really use them. I also thought this could have been about 200 pages shorter since the scenes kept being dragged out with interruptions from one of her annoyingly endearing family members and it just got to be too much. The heroine is a protagonist straight out of Legally Blonde, smart but has ditzy and truly naive moments, and talks like she always has everything under control when she really doesn’t. I wish she had more agency in this book. I just didn’t care ultimately.


News of the World by Paulette JilesImage result for news of the world paulette

There’s nothing technically wrong with this book. It just felt a little too safe for me and I guess I had higher hopes for a book that was longlisted for the National Book Award. It has a great historical setting (right after the American Civil War) but the storyline just felt too saccharine for me especially for a literary fiction novel that’s trying to be more nuanced.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie MclemoreImage result for when the moon was ours

I know this book is well loved in the book community and I really wanted to like this one because it explores themes of being transgender, being in a relationship with a transgender person and what it means to truly expose yourself. One of the main character is Pakistani which I never see in a YA book. I also really wanted to like this book because I really like magical realism but the writing felt a little too flowery and nothing was being said. And while the writing was pretty beautiful, the storyline felt like it was going nowhere. I understand coming of age doesn’t technically have a plot but I felt like Mclemore was trying to achieve another plot besides the coming of age and it just didn’t work for me.

And that’s my March reading! Let me know what you read in March, what your favorites were or if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were. =)

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book review · Uncategorized · wrap up

February 2017 Wrap Up

Surprisingly I actually read a lot in February considering it’s a month that always seems to go by much faster than the other months. It sometimes feels like February doesn’t even happen. However, I had a pretty good reading month so here are my thoughts on all the books 🙂

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3/5

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

This reminded me soooo much of The Wrath and the Dawn especially in terms of the characters. We have an independent young woman who doesn’t want to get married blah blah blah and a mysterious king with secrets and they both fall in love. But while Renee Ahdieh imbued her main characters with originality and individualism, I didn’t think Chokshi’s characters achieved anything past two dimensionality and superficial love confessions. Because the second half depended on my investment into these two main characters, suffice to say that I was skipping through
it waiting for it to end. I did, however, like the incorporation of Indian mythology and all these creatures of lore.

 

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3.5/5

 The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

This was so much fun!! A historical fantasy that takes place during 16th century England following Christopher who is an apothecary apprentice. He and his friend, Tom try to solve the mystery of the murders that have been happening around their town. Omg guys, this was so cute and fun and full of middle-grade goodness. There’s a cute bromance, interesting puzzles and codes, some interesting historical facts, a fun mystery, and a lot of the main character being a little shit and getting into trouble every other page. Highly recommended for middle grade readers.

Reviews for these coming soon!
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong | Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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4/5

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

This is a short story by the classic author William Faulkner. This was a good prelude to me reading As I Lay Dying next month which I’m excited to read since I’ve never read Faulkner before. This story very much follows the Southern Gothic writing tradition, following a black woman living in an old mansion alone except we only get to know her through the people around her. The ending was so creepy but again very much in style with the Southern Gothic themes. Faulkner is not a hard author to read in terms of language, it’s fairly simply, it’s just everything in between that’s difficult to decipher.

 

Nana Vol. 1 by Ai Yuzawa

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4/5

I haven’t read a shojo manga in so long but I heard that this series focuses on friendship than romance and it was so good. I think part of the reason why I adored this so much is because it’s more of a coming-of-age story of two flawed, university aged girls trying to find who they are as they navigate romance and friendships and all that good coming-of-age stuff. The first volume follows them in their separate storylines, the first Nana is just getting over an affair she had and moving to Tokyo to try and attend art school. The other Nana of the story is part of a punk rock music group. They couldn’t be any more different but they will eventually meet and become best friends. I love the mixture of typical shojo humor and the more emotional scenes of self-discovery.

 

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2/5

5000 km per second by Manuele Fior

 

This is a French graphic novel following two people who fall in love over a period of time. Life happens. They break up. And they meet again. This is a novel that was completely lackluster in the story department but so lovely in its artwork. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that it’s a monochrome palette painted with watercolor (my favorite style). It really rendered the setting of Egypt and Italy in a lively way.

 

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Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

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3.75/5

This is a beautiful Beauty and the Beast retelling that gives a lot of nods to the original French story but of course, gives an original spin to it. Beauty is a gardener who wanders into the Beast’s castle one day and the rest of the story goes from there. Contrary to many BatB retellings, this one actually addresses the subject of bestiality head on (subtly) and a lot of the sexist notions of Belle “fixing” the Beast. And what I really liked was that it puts Beauty on equal footing with the Beast. The Beast himself is actually a really considerate and mild-mannered person/beast without a mean streak or temper problem which is completely different from other renditions of the Beast which was refreshing. There’s an overarcing mystery about the magic mansion that Belle is trapped under that they both try to solve together. However, I was missing a central internal conflict that I’d hoped would propel more character development. Still, this was a retelling worth reading..or listening to because I did listen to this on audiobook. It is narrated by the same person who narrated The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I think her raspy, antique voice really fits this story.

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3.5/5

El deafo by Cece Bell

I mentioned this in my graphic novels recommendation post here. I definitely recommend this for younger readers. The artwork is very cartoony but definitely doesn’t detract from the overall theme of being ok with yourself and trying to learn that as a young child who is deaf.

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Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

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4/5

I’m going to be doing a full review of this whole trilogy when I’m finished with it so I plan on reading the second one in March and third in April. But so far, this fantasy has impressed me a lot more than other epic fantasies of late although it still makes me wonder why epic fantasy authors are so obsessed with writing about whores. I seriously think the word whore appeared on every other page.

DNFs

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

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3/5

As much as this book reveals about what it’s like to be a brain surgeon, I feel as though the author was holding back from revealing too much about his cases especially his failed ones. I suppose I understand that because he is still practicing (I think). But the problem is I can watch videos of these procedures and it would be better for me visually. What I wanted was the human side to these cases. But the writing was lackluster and he incorporated pieces of dialogue that were completely unnecessary and he would keep skipping around topics within the same chapter even though the previous topic clearly needed some more explanation. For most of the book, he talks about his cases but I felt like he was just listing them off and not going into too much depth about any one of them so that kind of frustrated me. Maybe it was also the fact that he was kind of an arrogant asshole most of the time. That doesn’t bother me so much as the fact that it feels like he uses the book to excuse himself rather than to grow. Maybe that’s just me.

Image result for imagine me goneImagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

This is a story about a man who has depression and how his family copes with this. In as far as I read, I think it was a fairly good translation of what it means to be a person with depression but the writing and the family members were compelling to make me keep reading.

 

 

And that was my reading in February! Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, what you thought of them, anything really, I’d love to know!

 

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Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2017 Wrap Up

I hate January because it’s the weird slump after the holidays when you realize all the festivities are over and you have to go back to real life. It also always feels like the longest month even though there are other months that have 31 days. I had a pretty ordinary January so I won’t be doing a favorites this month, I’m just going to combine it with my February favorites. And now, the books.

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3/5

The first book of 2017 I read was: Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George

This is the sequel to Dragon Slippers that I read last month. I don’t know what happened but the things I thought were endearing and charming in the last book grew to be irritating and annoying in this one. I think it’s because the characters were now a little too kitschy and gimmicky. Overall, it was still cute and fun but didn’t have that same charm as Book one. I still recommend the first book if you’re looking for a cute pick-me-up.

 

I then finally read a Sarah Waters book: The Little Stranger

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3.5/5

I first wanted to read this because I was looking for a gothic novel set in a creepy mansion that may or may not have a ghost in it. And I got that..somewhat. I loved the descriptions of the mansion and all its mysterious rooms and hallways. What I didn’t love so much was the repetitiveness. One of the characters in the book would tell Dr. Faraday, the main character, that some weird shit was happening and they were really scared and they would think it’s a supernatural entity but then Dr. Faraday would deny this and the cycle would repeat over and over again (esp in the last half of the book). GIRL, let me enlighten you: IT’S A GHOST. Also, the author spoonfed me everything that the characters were thinking so they grew kind of bland. It was also way too long for it to keep the suspense it was trying so hard to build up. But overall, I’d still recommend it (with reservations) for a historical fiction ghost story (it’s not really that scary). I still intend to read Fingersmith by this author; it seems well-received.

Luna: New Moon by Ian Mcdonald

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3.5/5

I don’t like to use the whole “this book is x meets x” but I’m going to break my own rule. If we can remember that this is its own book, I am going to say that it has a lot of similarities to Game of Thrones. So basically Game of Thrones on the moon. It follows a huge cast of characters that all have ulterior motives; they’re all vying for power for their families; there’s sex; there’s violence; a cut throat world. Perfect HBO bait. And I actually liked it. I thought the worldbuilding on the moon was super interesting because there are no rules. Everything is based on contract and negotiation and people’s lives are based on how much oxygen they have. It took me a minute to warm up to these characters because we had to know so many and the way Macdonald writes the third person is really detached but I did end up engaged. The cast of characters are diverse in ethnicity (the main family is Brazilian) and there’s an equal balance of male and female players and the female players are respected for different reasons (happily, no rape plot device).

 

The rest of the novels I have reviews for. I read two books that explored rape culture and everyday sexism. One I loved, the other not so much. Click on the pictures to be linked to my reviews =)

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I have a huge graphic novel recommendations post coming within the month where I’ll write more about these two graphic novels. Let me know if you have any specific types of graphic novels you want me to recommend, I’d be happy to oblige!

Something New: Takes from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

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4/5

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

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3/5

What books did you read this January? And again, if you have any genre or types of graphic novel recommendations that you would like me to mention in my recs post, let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful February 🙂

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Uncategorized · wrap up

December 2016 Wrap Up (I read a lot!)

I definitely went crazy during December which was awesome. I read so much mostly thanks to the many graphic novels I read. I basically went on a graphic novel binge which helped bring my total books read last month to 14. I haven’t read 14 books in a month since 2015 so yay me. Without further ado, let’s get to the books.

First of all, the books..

The first thing I read was:

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (4/5)

This was so cute and light and fluffy and just the type of book that is food for my romantic soul (I’m definitely not immune to the idea of a meet-cute in NYC and falling in love in a day). I felt like the chapters were too short for me to feel truly invested in the other perspectives besides Natasha’s and Daniel’s. I wanted more from those chapters considering they touched on such interesting topics regarding the parents and their lives . I also thought Natasha changed her mind really quickly for someone who was dead set on not falling in love but whatever. I thought the way she wrote Daniel’s perspective was so spot on, probably helped by the fact that the author herself is married to a Korean man. I flew through this book and read it in a day so it’s a good pick-me-up or for when you’re in a reading slump.


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George by Alex Gino (3/5)

I was so disappointed in this book. It is a book about a trans girl (Melissa) who is known as George to everyone else and wants to play the part of Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web) in her school play except everyone thinks she’s a boy. She wants to find a way to tell who she is to the people around her. For a book that is #ownvoices and written from a trans girl’s perspective, it surprisingly gives in to many of the gender stereotypes it intended to subvert. At one point in the novel, Melissa’s brother says this after Melissa comes out to him, “Oh that makes sense because you don’t make a very good boy” and I was thinking what does that even mean because up until that point, the author shows the reader Melissa does not make a good boy because she likes pink and doesn’t like violent video games…what a disappointment.


I have reviews for both of these in my memoir mash up

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Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George (4/5)

This reminded me of my young days reading 90’s/2000’s type fantasy. You know the ones, the traditional sword and sorcery with princesses and dragons and a very traditional good vs evil storyline. I completely adored the simple but entertaining worldbuilding. It’s a world you want to visit despite its problems. I really liked how the heroine finds strength in sewing that’s considered boring and normally devalued because of its feminine qualities. There’s some good action near the end, a really clean romance, and some really archetypal but entertaining characters. 

 

 


 

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Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery (4/5)

This book was adorable and Anne is one of those characters that I would hate in real life. She’s so self-righteous and wayyy too talkative but I really liked reading about her. But you can’t really help but be charmed by her because she’s lived a difficult life before moving in with Marilla and Matthew and to see her be so optimistic in spite of the odds is just kind of inspiring. I completely love the way that she writes the relationship between Anne and Matthew and Marilla. The way LM Montgomery writes the charm of Green Gables and Anne’s frenetic dialogue is effortless and top-notch.


And the rest were graphic novels.. I went crazy on the graphic novels last month as you will see.

First I went on a Wonder Woman binge because she is awesome but apparently she is really hard to write because most of the ones I’ve read so far don’t give her enough justice.

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Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult (3/5)

I should have know this was going to disappoint when I saw that Jodi Picoult was writing it..I liked the beginning when Diana was talking about she can’t get used to the ways of humans when she is an immortal but the plot got too rushed near the end and lost any possibility for good character development. Also why does Steve Trevor keep being portrayed as a creepy womanizer. It’s weird. The art is fine although a bit too chaotic for me.

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Excerpt

 

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DC Bombshells Vol. 1: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett & Sauvage (3/5)

I said just last month that my favorite artwork ever in a graphic novel was Harrow County. Well I was wrong, this is my favorite. It’s just so beautifully matte and every character is so beautifully drawn. The content itself was ok although the premise itself seemed so promising. It’s an alternate WWII fought with by all DC superheroines and if women were on the front lines. I think it just focused on too many characters for me to feel any cohesiveness, although if I’m to be honest I only read it for Wonder Woman’s origin story. I never get tired of it. But if you’re looking for something that includes many of the DC comics women superheroes but a paper thin, confusing plot, this is for you.

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Artwork

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DC Comics Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1 by various authors (3/5)

I’m still very angry about the fact that Wonder Woman was dropped as a UN ambassador because she was seen as only a sex symbol. Just read this collection of short stories and you can see that it is an insult to consider Wonder Woman just a sex symbol. It’s perfectly fine to be a sex symbol, in fact, most superheroes are. Just look at Batman’s muscles etc.  She is so much more than that. She stands for so much more. And this collection does just that. Some of the stories are a little simplified but there’s some gorgeous artwork that pays homage to who Wonder Woman is. I wish there was more.


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The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1 by Renae De Liz (4/5)

This was the best wonder woman comic of the bunch because the story wasn’t rushed and it knew that it didn’t have to have page after page of action in order to keep the reader’s attention and her character was truly developed. It follows her journey before she left Paradise Island through her childhood and her teen years. I enjoyed learning how she really came to embody the characteristics Wonder Woman and why she is the way she is. The artwork is also pretty great.

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Excerpt

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Paper Girls Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn

Paper girls Vol. 2 gives me so many answers from Vol. 1 but gives me just as many questions. But this volume is clearly better than Vol. 1 because the characters feel more distinct and there’s a lot more situations where the characters face their fears. I’m also excited about the ending because there’s so much potential for more epic plot lines and I really have no idea what’s going to happen next. This volume just felt way more cohesive so if you thought the first one was just ok, continue on! I think it was worth it.


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The Arrival by Shaun Tan (3/5)

The Arrival is drawn entirely in shades of brown, black and white (almost like a silent movie) and no words. It’s sort of an extended metaphor for immigration and going to a new place. I seriously want some of the artwork framed on my wall. A lovely book but nothing exactly memorable content wise.

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Excerpt

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I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1 by Skottie Young (3/5)

This book was so full of debauchery and fun. Don’t go into this book looking for anything character-driven. The art is so tacky; it’s drawn with vivid combinations of colors that should never work together but somehow does. There’s so many fairytale tropes turned on its head. It sort of reminds me of animated show on cartoon network..but for adults and with adult humor. If you’re into that, I think it’s worth it.

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Excerpt (My picture)

Now I’m paranoid that I forgot a book but I don’t think I did..Anyways, let me know if you’ve read any of these. I know I was pretty brief on some of them but if you want more of my thoughts, just let me know =)

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Uncategorized · wrap up

2016 Reading Statistics/Recap

2016 is coming to an end (thank god) and throughout the year, I’ve kept track of the books that I’ve read and compiled a little statistics page as a little homage to the books I read this year. I made one last year too which I’ve linked here. Enjoy!

This year I read: 110 books/other formats

Only 3 were rereads (This number is abysmal so I hope to reread more in the next year)

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Thoughts: This number was more of a 50/50 last year. But this year I read a lot more literary fiction and I think I tend to gravitate towards literary fiction written by women for some reason. The “neither” refers to Alex Gino, the author of George, who identifies as neither male or female. I also read a small percentage written by both men and women which tends to refer to short story collections or graphic novels. There’s not necessarily anything I would change about this because I usually read an even amount of people who identify as either male or female so there’s that. It would be great to read something by someone who identifies outside this gender binary like Alex Gino.

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Thoughts: This should come as no surprise that I read mostly Fantasy and Science Fiction although to be honest, I didn’t think I read that much of either this year. I think it’s because I mostly associate fantasy with epic fantasy whereas in reality I just read a lot of Wonder Woman comics, magical realism, and urban fantasy. I didn’t read a lot of hard science fiction either but more ones that have science fiction elements. I was really into the contemporary (realistic fiction) and literary fiction categories which is totally good with me. I find that I like those a lot more than I use to.

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Thoughts: Nothing surprising here but I’ve discovered that I really like nonfiction (one of my favorite books of 2016 being nonfiction). I would really like to rectify this in 2017 aiming for around 10-15% nonfiction but I don’t know if that’s feasible or not.

 

 

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Thoughts: 2016 wasn’t that great of a reading year or maybe I grade too harshly but I tend to rate books a 3 or or 4 with one lone 4.5 and one lone one star. I don’t tend to rate books 1 or 2 stars anymore.

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Thoughts: I did read more YA than I did last year but that’s totally cool. Again, my most read category was Adult fiction. The other categories will probably stay the same percentage for the next few years. I only reach for New Adult when I’m in a certain mood and if I really like one because most of them I DNF’ed this year. I would like to read more middle grade next year but again, I usually only read those I’m in a certain mood but I would like to expand that a little more.

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Thoughts: One of 2016 goals was to read more works of drama and poetry which I’m proud to say that I actually completed. I read at least one play almost every month. I really like the form so I might continue it into next year. Poetry reading will probably lessen next year because as much as I like some poetry, I don’t think it’s for me. I read a ton of graphic novels/manga this year and that will continue on to next year.

Country that Main Characters are From

 

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Thoughts: There are a ton of discrepancies when it comes to this map because it doesn’t account for interracial backgrounds or people of color in the United States etc. etc. but I really liked the look of it and I’m kind of ashamed I haven’t read any books with characters of a South American heritage this year. That needs to be rectified. I did read a lot more Asian literature this year which I want to continue onto next year.

2016 Resolutions Lookback

Here is where I look back at my 2016 resolutions and see which ones I’ve actually met.

Goals (post from 2016 resolutions tag)

Read 70 books. Check.

Read 10 sequels. I only read 9 :(but that’s actually a lot more than I expected than I thought so I suppose that’s ok. I’m notoriously bad at keeping up with sequels unless it’s a series I really, really love.

And my next goal:

classic

…..Wow I sure did REALLY well on this goal….

I only read Crime and Punishment so I guess this list didn’t push me to read certain classics although I did  read a couple of other classics this year. Woops..

My next goal was to read diversely which I think I did fairly well and hopefully I can do better next year! And my last goal was to read works of drama and poetry which I completed to good success. Yay!!

And that’s a wrap! 2016 reading in a nutshell. Let me know what you thought of my reading year, how your reading year compares and whether you reached your reading goals this year!