July Wrap-Up + Mini Reviews
This month, I read a total of 8 books! If you know me from my Instagram, you’ll know that basically every month I have a massive ambitious TBR that I generally only read half of. July was no exception!
So far this year, since I’ve no longer been in a book slump (I was in one for a long time guys), with my busy schedule I tend to read about 8-10 books a month which I think is pretty amazing. I made a story video a little while ago talking about the pressures I’ve felt and many people feel in the book community to always be reading a huge amount of books every month, but the truth is, no matter how many you read, what’s important is that you’re reading. I can be a slow and a fast reader, depending on the book, how busy I am, how I’m feeling and my mood. Some people are generally slower readers, some people are not. Even if one person manages to read 5 books in a year instead of 50 or 100, the main purpose is to encourage and celebrate the joy of reading 🙂 I refuse to believe there is an elitism with how many books one manages to read or even the questioning of what counts as a book (graphic novel and comic wise), we’re a community, not a cult or a secret club where we need to fulfill certain requirements to be classified as a ‘reader’.
Anyway! Enough about that, let’s talk about my reading in July!
At the end of June, I planned another ambitious TBR of 16 or so books, which slowly got smaller and again that I only managed to read about half. It gets a little frustrating sometimes because I do want to read more, but we gotta work, we gotta study and there are so many things to do that we can’t always get enough time to smash out one book a day. Plus my beauty sleep is important.
Now, because I was so busy with the start of the uni semester and work ramping up a little, I didn’t get around to writing individual reviews for the books that I read, so I will have a mini-review under each title below in the order of when I read them in July. I won’t include the blurbs like normal mini-reviews but you can click the cover to be redirected to its Goodreads page to learn more about it. So, without further ado, here are the books I read this month:
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (4.5/5)
You hardly ever see fantasy stand alone these days and I think that’s because they are so hard to write. Being able to squish majority of how an entire fictional fantasy world works into a decent book length without dragging it out too much is a real skill and I think Christo smashed it. She managed to reel me in with her world building, her characters were definitely complex and had backstories. Her writing was effortless. If I could sum it up I’d say it was like Six of Crows meets Throne of Glass. The Six of Crows vibes might have come on a little too strong at times, partly because Prince Elian’s crew were just so fiercely loyal and acting like a strange rag tag group brought together to become a family. Lira was an interesting protagonist and reminded me of Manon, with her murderous ways but that teensy tiny bit of humanity that makes her a relatable character worth cheering for. I also really liked how this book emphasised a difference between mermaids and sirens, while most stories describe them interchangeably. This is definitely one fo my favourite retellings and I look forward to reading more from Alexandra Christo in the future.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5)
I loved this book so much. After reading Save the Date, I was hoping that Morgan Matson would become an ultra favourite author and she’s certainly on the way there. This book was so so enjoyable and another super quick read! I seem to fly through Matson’s writing every time and I honestly want to binge buy every other book she’s written today. Her characters are always so well thought out and have the most frustrating adventures that really develops their character and get a better understanding of themselves. While Save the Date focussed on family, this book focussed on the protagonist Emily, finding herself and seeing that she can be brave and successful without always relying on her best friend Sloane when she suddenly disappears. I feel like that really resonated with me and my personal experiences with friendships. It was just a dream reading this and I loved every bit of it, it had me feel so much emotion by laughing at some parts and crying here and there. It had one of my favourite things ever (which I share with bestie Bree) and that’s my love for LISTS and bucket lists are even more amazing! This book was realistic and thought provoking and even though it had one of my pesky petty hates in books (songs and bands from the real world) and I constantly had Kelly Clarkson stuck in my head because of the title, it will forever be one of my favourite contemporaries.
This was another amazing contemporary. I’ve been in such a great contemporary mood the last month and a half or so and this just added fuel to the fire after my Morgan Matson obsession began. I feel like this was just so refreshing. It wasn’t too complex or crazy with themes and underlying messages but such a pure and realistic and cute love story with the sweetest kind of romance. The characters felt real and well-fleshed out, the story of unlikely friends was like a little flower slowly growing and making you fuzzy with happiness as they became closer friends. The love interest didn’t have all the typical trope characteristics, the writing was so easy to read and short chapters also make the world better. Probably the only thing I didn’t enjoy or at least thought might be improved is that a lot of the time throughout the book, the protagonist Claudia felt quite emotionless and it was hard to connect and understand her emotional reactions and her thinking. Even though I was crying, I couldn’t really tell if she would be or not, if that makes sense. I’m not sure whether it was intentional as part of her character or not because I loved the book nonetheless, but that’s just something I felt when reading this book. Let me know if you had similar thoughts and opinions in the comments below :).
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆(4/5)
I did not expect to like this series so much but I read basically all the books in it so far in July and it all started with Three Dark Crowns. The mere concept of this book is very original and hella barbaric, but hey, death makes anything interesting when there’s a lot at stake. Just the idea of forcing sisters to kill each other over a job, a job that mind you wouldn’t even be very fun, is just crazy. That kind of craziness is what made the world building, the characters and the whole plot so unpredictable. Sadly, the unpredictability was partly a major downfall because the first half and a bit of the book was so goddamn SLOW. I was hoping and begging for more drama instead of more character backstory building because at that point I didn’t dislike or like any of the sisters a whole lot. I wanted to see what was going to happen because I had no idea. It was super slow for a long while but the ending definitely redeemed itself. I did not see it coming whatsoever and it completely changed my perspective of the book and got me so interested in the world and characters. All the ulterior motives and the magic system almost had me thinking that this was inspired a little bit by Game of Thrones. In the end, that ending definitely did it for me, it was crazy and strange but addictive and I jumped right into the next book waiting for me on my shelves.
One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (4.5/5)
I enjoyed this book so much more because it basically left off exactly where the previous book finished in terms of how action packed it was. I read through this one so much faster because the foundation was already set from that boring first half of the first book. It was once again, super unpredictable because when I thought something was going to happen, suddenly it didn’t and it was the total opposite. I definitely also connected better with each main character, and some characters seriously became favourite characters out of nowhere. I won’t mention names and things cause spoilers duh, but this book was so much better than the first. One of the things that did annoy me was that Kendare left all the juicy action again towards the end, at the last 80-100 pages. I was literally craving death and suffering we were basically promised in the tagline of the first book and I was so impatient about it. Don’t you worry though, because she did deliver, eventually, and with a very confusing ending that I won’t get into. A lot of people including myself thought this was a trilogy but it actually has two more books to come, so I’m excited. I did not expect to like this series as much as I currently do.
I have to say. I think this bind up of two novellas is actually better than both first books. Probably because I already knew all the characters for the first novella and because Kendare had left a bunch of easter eggs about the second novella throughout the first two books. Like many people have said and I concur, the second novella The Oracle Queen was amazing. Both novellas were well written and jam packed despite the short page count but boy did The Oracle Queen have great stuff. The first novella was nice, and interesting and created much more intrigue for the next book in the series but the second had my heart wrenching and I wanted to scream and just AGH . I was so outraged by that ending and I just…it’s hard to explain without spoiling but throne politics honestly suck even though they create the best drama. I’m gonna leave it at that.
Even though I haven’t even finished The Raven Cycle series, I know it’s definitely a favourite. I have many friends obsessed with this series and I’m happy that I reread the first book (last month?) and reread this one so that I can continue it. I first read The Dream Thieves about a year ago, and trust me I would’ve read the whole series had my kindle not been lost.(RIP Hugo). So now that I’ve got the hardbacks, I’m slowly going to read them one by one each month. I say one each month because I tried reading them all in one go in June and failed miserably. That and also because no matter how much I love this series and Maggie’s absolutely lush writing style, it is slow. It’s honestly the only downfall I think. Each sentence is so well written and thought out with meanings and synonyms that it’s the kind of book you have to be in a certain mood for, like…classics, because it’s just you gotta eat it slow. The Dream Thieves was gorgeous and was jam packed with the writing deliciousness of magic, dreams and nightmares and of course, Cabeswater. I had a lot of fun reading it too because I was partly listening to the audiobook on the way to work and back, and the narrator squawking like Chainsaw had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Enjoyed this one so much, and I’d recommend this series to anyone.
THIS BOOK. OK. This book was the perfect way to end July, and it was the book that made me stay up until 1AM because I had to finish it (even though I had work early the next day and my cheeks were heavily tear-stained). I had not read anything from Alice Oseman before but I picked it up when it was chosen as the previous book of the month for The YA Room , and although I basically didn’t read it on time or was even able to make it to the book club meeting, I was determined to read it soon. Boy, was I in for a ride. Bree was not joking when she said this was amazing. This was just so unapologetically REAL. It conveyed such real and powerful characters that I have no doubt are out there somewhere living in this world. I loved that it was light and fresh, yet thought-provoking and so casually diverse. I really enjoyed living through this book from the eyes on a muslim teen, something I’ve never read before. I loved that it showed the capabilities of online friendships and delved into that culture of fandoms but also the not so good parts of it to do with obsession, mob mentality and what is really real in terms of how we express ourselves and our emotions towards celebrities. Mental Health was another massive part of this book which was amazing. As someone who has anxiety, it was written so well and didn’t sugar coat anything, instead showing you the real effects of anxiety. I loved this book so much. It was beautiful and I highly recommend it!
And those were all the books I read in July! I think it was pretty successful, I’m super proud of myself as all of you should be for whatever number of books you read this month! I’m also pretty stoked that they were all really good books and between 4 to 5 stars which makes this month even better 🙂
Let me know in the comments what you read this month, if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought, I’m always up for a discussion. Until next time,
Image Sources: Goodreads