Monthly Wrap-Up: November ’21

Last month I mentioned I wanted to slow things down the latter part of this year because I didn’t want to get burned out going into 2022. I successfully stuck to this. I read and blogged less in November even though part of my mind was still in hyper-focused mode. Luckily, I was able to channel this into some new crochet projects which kept me from overdoing it on the blogging/reading front. I also did a lot of holiday shopping and am almost done purchasing gifts for everyone. It’s one less thing to stress about in December and hopefully this means I can finally get to all the fantasy books I said I was going to read to close out this year. I am getting very impatient with this weather we are having though. This week we have temperatures in the upper 80s…in December. This feels very cruel. I would very much like to wear all the cute sweaters I bought for fall please. It’s going to be winter and the cold weather is nowhere to be found. Oh, also if I disappear for like a week or a week and a half it’s because I am taking a little hiatus. I probably won’t announce it, but I think I should take at least a small break before the year ends ❤

(Book covers below are linked to my reviews, unless otherwise specified.) 

Favorite Book This Month:

My favorite read in November was Rachel Smythe’s Lore Olympus: Volume One. I didn’t get into the webcomic like everyone else, but I heard all the hype and was eager to check it out in print. I adored it so much and the art work is so lovely. I don’t think I have the willpower to wait for the second volume, so I will probably be check out the webcomic after all.

Least Favorite Book This Month:

No book received lower than three stars from me.

Other Books I Read This Month:

✿Small Town Monsters by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

✿The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

✿Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

✿We Do This ’til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice by Mariame Kaba

Reviews Posted:

(Covers linked to reviews)

Notable Blog Posts:

Book Lists: Most Stunning 2021 Book Covers – I enjoy pretty covers and if you do too, check out my favorite covers of 2021.

Book Lists: 2021 Books I Haven’t Read (But Should Have) – It’s that time of year where I look back and regret all the releases I haven’t had time to read yet.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Took the opportunity to share ten books I think fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (book or movie) would enjoy.

What I Watched/Am Watching:

The Guest – I watched so many horror movies in October that I fell behind on all my other shows, so I’ve been trying to finish Hometown Cha Cha Cha and Hotel Del Luna. I also just started The Guest which is a K-Drama about demon possession and I am loving it.

December Releases I’m Excited For:

I don’t have any December releases on my radar and I am thinking this probably has to do with the supply chain issue. A lot of book releases have been pushed to next year.

Do you read more or less at the end of the year? What are your reading plans for December?

Book Lists: 2021 Books I Haven’t Read (But Should Have)

Who is in the mood to be shamed? Just me? Well, that’s alright. I had a feeling earlier in the year that I wasn’t going to read as many books as I usually do and even though I read a lot the last couple of months, I still think my 2021 final total will be modest compared to past years. I’ve also been a particularly moody reader especially in the latter part of 2021 which means a lot of the books I was excited for didn’t end up on my read list. Today I am looking back at releases from this year that I meant to pick up but didn’t. I am feeling a pretty good amount of guilt over these especially the ones that are by favorite authors (I’m so sorry, Tasha Suri and Silvia Moreno-Garcia!). There is still one month left in the year, so I can hopefully get to at least some of these. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Jasmine Throne by Tashi Suri

2. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

3. The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

4. Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

5. The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

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6. Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno

7. Dreaming of You by Melissa Lozado-Oliva

8. Ace of Shades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

9. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova

10. The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Which of these do I need to immediately pick up? Which 2021 releases do you feel guilty about not getting to?

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I’m Avoiding

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Characters I’d Love An Update On. I am basically doing the opposite of what this topic is asking for this week. Instead of listing books whose characters I want an update on, this is a list of sequels that I’ve been avoiding because I am nervous/scared for what the authors have in store. This might have been a terrible idea because while compiling this list, I am becoming aware of just how many series I have yet to finish. Yikes. Covers linked to Goodreads.

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1. Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta – I am embarrassed by how long I’ve had this sequel on my shelf. I actually own all three books in this series, but have only read Finnikin of the Rock. I think I may be afraid that it isn’t as good as I remember it to be.

2. Now I Rise by Kiersten White – I loved reading about Lada’s descent into darkness in And I Darken, but it is Radu’s story that has me nervous. I just don’t want to see him suffer and so I have avoided this one.

3. The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman – I absolutely should finish this final book in the series, but the ending of the second book was so heartbreaking for Lady Helen and me too!

4. Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalo – I think I might have lost interest in this series which is why I haven’t finished the final book. The third novel was a bit of a letdown and I find myself wondering if I still care enough about these characters to pick this one up or if I should just let it go.

5. Stormsong by C.L. Polk – I absolutely adored Witchmark, but I have a bone to pick with Grace and am therefore a little hesitant to pick up this sequel where she is the protagonist.

6. The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty – I have heard things that have made me question whether picking up this final book is a good idea. The second book had me suffering enough.

7. Misfit in Love by S.K. AliSaint and Misfits is one of my favorite novels and I think I am afraid of my own expectations for this sequel.

8. The Empire of Dreams by Rae Carson – I am always a little wary when authors return to worlds years later to continue more stories. Sometimes I feel like we should let those worlds alone, you know?

9. The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi – Of course I am avoiding this one. I just know Roshani Chokshi is going to tear my heart out. The question is will she piece it back together?

10. Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong – This is literally a Romeo and Juliet retelling. Of course I’m afraid of its ending.

Have you read any of these? Which sequels are you avoiding? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit!

Mini-Reviews: We Are Not From Here + The Taking of Jake Livingston

I am still sharing reviews from my reads from Latinx Heritage Month if you can believe it. I read a lot and reviewed almost everything I picked up. I believe I have one full length review left to post for that month. It always feels weird pairing very different books when I do mini-reviews, but this really is a good representation of what my October was like. I read for Latinx Heritage Month during the first half of the month and then transitioned to horror the last two weeks of October. I got through a good amount of horror last month even though I split my attention between that and LHM. Next year I might have to start horror reads earlier because even though I read a good amount, Halloween came and I was still in need of the genre. You should see at least one set of mini-reviews dedicated to horror, hopefully by the end of the month.

Title: We Are Not From Here Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez Series: N/A Pages: 326 Publisher: Philomel Books Release Date: May 19th 2020

TW: death of a parent, abuse, suicide attempt, sexual assault (forced kissing and rape)

"A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border. Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña have no false illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Though their families--both biological and found--create a warm community for them, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the three teens know they have no choice but to run: for the border, for the hope of freedom, and for their very lives. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico with their eyes on the U.S. border, they follow the route of La Bestia, a system of trains that promise the hope of freedom--if they are lucky enough to survive the harrowing journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and the desperation that courses through their very veins, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know that there's no turning back, dangerous though the road ahead might be. In this story inspired by real--and current--events, the plight at our southern border is brought to life."

Jenny Torres Sanchez’s We Are Not From Here tracks three migrants’ desperate and heart-shattering journey from Guatemala to the US. Pulga has spent his life trying to be tough because he knows that the world would eat him up and spit him out in a second. His dream of following in his father’s footsteps as a musician is the only thing that has kept him going. Chico lost his mother at a young age and Pulga became his family. His tender-heartedness often gets him into trouble and unlike Pulga, he has never taught himself to shut off the part of his heart that cares too much. Pequeña has been drowning in her own despair for months. Her mother is constantly reminding her that her pregnancy is a blessing, but to Pequena it’s a reminder of all the things she’s kept secret. When the violence from the only place they’ve ever called home threatens to swallow them whole, the three teens have no choice but to run. There is nothing easy about their journey, ever step forward demands more and more from them. After the money, the tears, and the sweat have run out, it slowly begins to take their hope too. The trek is traumatizing to all who must take is on and even for those who survive, it’s impossible to be the same person you were at the beginning. You pay with parts of yourself. Told in dual POVs, We Are Not From Here is beautifully written and brutally honest. One of the single most impactful reads I’ve read in my entire life.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)


Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston Author: Ryan Douglass Series: N/A Pages: 244 Publisher: Putnam Release Date: July 13th 2021

TW: school shooting, suicide, child abuse, attempted rape, depression, bullying, domestic violence

"Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee. Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win"

Ryan Douglass’s The Taking of Jake Livingston has its fair share of unsettling scenes, but falts in its development of certain relationships. Jake has been able to see ghosts for as long as he can remember. Being an outsider comes with the territory of being a medium, but Jake is also gay and not exactly out to his friends or family. He is also one of very few Black students at his private school. When Jake crosses paths with a vengeful ghost, all the things he thought he knew about the dead realm go out the window. Sawyer is able to manipulate objects in the real world and he has his sights set on Jake. Most people see Jake as absent-minded, prone to zone out when the truth is Jake’s mind is always engaged, just not necessarily focused on the world in front of him. Dealing with homophobic and racist teachers and peers, school is more of a nightmare than a refuge. At home, there is a lot of tension between him and his brother as well as unresolved issues with his mother, stemming from the abuse he endured from his father. Jake doesn’t have too many places that make him feel safe and wanted which makes him vulnerable to nefarious influences. One of the most interesting elements of The Taking of Jake Livingston is its dual POV. Not only do we get inside Jake’s head, but inside Sawyer’s. We see Jake trying to balance two sides of his life and then we jump back in time to witness the unraveling of Sawyer, as his journey catapults to a violent end. Both of these characters are vividly drawn; however, I wanted more from the side characters. Jake makes new friends and gains a potential love interest in a new student, but neither Fiona nor Allister really felt developed enough. It was so important to Jake’s arc to find his own people, but we spend very little time with them and when we did, their relationships felt accelerated. Still, if you’re looking for a quick horror read that delves into what pushes individuals to violence, The Taking of Jake Livingston might be the book for you.

★ ★ ★
(3/5)