Mid-year reading reflection and tag

I can’t believe that 2020 is halfway over- its been a wild year to say the least. At the beginning of the year I expected to barely get any reading done because of work, and then work stopped and all of the sudden I was ahead of my reading goal. So far this year I’ve read 21 books, 10,115 pages, and my average rating is a 3.9. I’ve spent the majority of this year rereading books, and I’ve only read seven authors. There are definitely some reading changes I’d like to make.

Goals for the second half of the year

  1. Focus on reading books from authors who are new to me and books I haven’t read- less rereading
  2. Read more nonfiction/scholarly works
  3. Diversify my shelves and reading habits- take stock of the books I own and read
  4. Only support authors whose views I support- i.e. no transphobic, sexist, racist authors

Mid-year book freakout tag

The questions below are taken from Scorpio Book Dreams.

What is the best book that you’ve read so far in 2020?

I have to give this to Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas. This book got me out of a major reading slump and far exceeded my expectations.

What’s your favorite sequel of the first half of the year?

I enjoyed War by Laura Thalassa just as much as I enjoyed the first book in the series.

Is there a new release that you haven’t read yet but you’re really excited for?

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown sounds amazing, and as soon as it’s back in stock at my local bookstore or on Bookshop.org I will be buying it.

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

Famine by Laura Thalassa is the third book in the Four Horsemen series. The release date is up in the air, but it will be coming out sometime during the second half of this year. As soon as this comes out I’m buying it. This is self-published by the author, so preorder it on Amazon to support her and this amazing series.

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

Harry Potter. Even before the whole JKR b******t, I just really wasn’t enjoying my reread of this series. I’ve stopped rereading this series and I won’t be reading them or supporting JKR in the future. I urge everyone to do research on the problems and faults in the “facts” that JKR pointed to in her statement. There is a plethora of scholarly work out there that disproves everything she said and shows how incredibly harmful and reductive that point of view is. On top of all that, the house-elf plot in the fourth book was so infuriating, and the characters’ attitudes toward it is very off-putting. I also didn’t enjoy Harry as a character.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

I’m usually hesitant to read very hyped books, so I was surprised that I enjoyed Serpent & Dove as much as I did. I ended up giving it four stars, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel later this year.

Who is your favourite new to you, or debut, author?

I’ve actually only read one author this year who is new to me- Shelby Mahurin, the author of Serpent & Dove. But I have to give an honorable mention to Laura Thalassa, who quickly became one of my favorite authors. Prior to 2020 I had only read one of Thalassa’s books. This year I’ve read six more of her books and I plan on reading everything else she’s published.

Who is your favourite fictional crush from this year?

Basically every character that Laura Thalassa writes.

Who is your new favourite character?

Bryce Quinlan and Danika Fendyr have one of the greatest literary friendships that I’ve read.

A book that made you cry?

Crescent City made me ball my eyes out- and books never make me cry.

A book that made you happy?

I reread City of Heavenly Fire– and the last book makes me happy because finally everything is resolved and I can relax after a stressful reading experience.

Your favourite book to movie/ TV show that you’ve seen so far?

I finally watched The Witcher and I LOVED IT. I’ve rewatched it already, and I’m so excited for season two. I’m currently reading The Last Wish, but I don’t know if I’ll be finishing the series yet.

What is your favourite post that you’ve written so far this year?

I really like the recommendation posts I’ve done this year, and I hope to make them a regular occurrence on this website. So far I’ve recommended autobiographies by women and standalone novels.

What is the most beautiful book that you have bought?

This year I finally splurged and purchased the Lord of Shadows rune edition. It’s sold out at Waterstones, but I found it for a reasonable price on eBay.

What are 6 books that you want to read by the end of the year?

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Crave by Tracy Wolff, From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Eloquent Rage by Brittney Copper, Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, & The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, so if you purchase a book using one of my links you are helping to support this website (at no extra cost to you)

The bibliophile’s night out book tag

Beth over at Booksnest just created this original book tag, and I was immediately inspired by the questions and decided to answer. Check out Beth’s post here.

Pre-drinks | A prequel/novella you’ve read

This is much harder than I thought- I don’t read many novellas or many prequels! The first one that comes to my mind is A Court of Frost and Starlight. ACOFAS is a fun short story that takes place between the original trilogy and the future books.

The taxi to town | A book about travel

A book that involves physical travel as well as time travel is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I read this a couple years ago, and it’s definitely no easy undertaking. At almost 900 pages, it’s one of the longest books I’ve ever read, which is why I’ve yet to undertake reading Dragonfly in Amber.

Trying to find a table | A book you didn’t like to start with, but then ended up loving

This might be surprising because Sarah J. Maas is an auto-buy author for me, but Crescent City didn’t grab my attention until about 200 pages in. The beginning is very slow and the world-building is confusing, but by the end I was so invested and had completely forgiven the beginning for being so slow.

First round of drinks | A first book in a series

Mirage by Somaiya Daud definitely needs more hype! It’s beautifully written and has such complex characters. The sequel, A Court of Lions, is coming out very soon.

The dance floor | A book that makes you want to jump up and down with excitment

I was SO excited when War by Laura Thalassa came out. War is an adult fantasy/romance novel, which isn’t a genre I usually read but I’ve fallen in love with Thalassa’s writing, female characters, and stories. The third book in the series comes out later this year and I will be jumping for joy when that comes out as well!

The toilets | A book you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole

Due to the current state of book-twitter and everyone’s true colors coming out, I now have a ton of answers to this question. J.K. Rowling is done for me. I won’t be rereading Harry Potter again, or purchasing any of her new works. I urge everyone to do research on the “facts” she posted in her statement, as there is a plethora of scholarly work disproving everything she said and explaining how harmful that perspective is. It has also come to light that many white male science-fiction/fantasy (SFF) authors are terrible people, like Mark Lawrence and Sam Sykes. These situations are still unfolding, but I have no desire to read their words or support them. Support better authors!

The first to bail | The last book you DNF’d

Dark Harmony by Laura Thalassa is the last book I DNF’d. Earlier this year I went through a hardcore Laura Thalassa reading binge, and read a ton of her books. I didn’t dislike Dark Harmony by any means- I just felt like the third book wasn’t really necessary, and I was happy to say goodbye to the characters after the second book. The first two books are fun and I definitely recommend them if you’re looking for some light reading.

The journey home | A book you can’t really remember the plot of anymore

I read The Raven Cycle series four years ago, and I’ve completely forgotten basically everything about it. I also don’t see myself rereading this in the future.

The morning after | A comfort read

I have so many comfort reads, but one of the newest is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I know that this book with always pull me in and immerse me in the world. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout is another book that I love. The main character is one of my favorite leading ladies ever and her perspective is so fun.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, so if you purchase a book using one of my links you are helping to support this website (at no extra cost to you)

Rereading The Mortal Instruments Books 5-6

City of Lost Souls

Rating: 5 out of 5.

City of Lost Souls is definitely tied with City of Heavenly Fire for my favorite book in the series. The plot is great and the character development is equally fantastic. Sometimes I forget why Jonathan Morgenstern is such a scary villain, but then I reread this book and I remember. He is just plain evil, and the dynamic between him and Clary is so intriguing.

As I said in my last review of the first four books, I got tired pretty quickly of New York as the setting, so part of the reason I enjoy CoLS so much is because it takes place in a magically traveling townhouse. This might sound far out, but Cassandra Clare writes it in a way that makes it totally believable and plausible. I love getting to travel all around Europe in this book.

Character-wise this novel also just really did it for me. I love Alec and Magnus’ struggles, as well as the progression of Simon and Izzy’s relationship. Clary has grown by leaps and bounds since the first three books, and her character is so much more enjoyable for me to read. In addition to Clary’s character, another vast improvement I saw was the writing of the fight scenes. I thought they were so much more engaging than in previous books, and really captivated and thrilled me.

City of Heavenly Fire

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is by far the longest book of the series, but it never drags. Edom is such an intriguing setting, and all the characters really grew while there. While in Edom, I felt like we finally got to see Alec and Jace act like parabatai. In previous books it was always established that the two were parabatai, but I felt like we never really got to see the intensity or depth of their relationship. It kind of came out of nowhere, but it makes sense because the longer Cassandra Clare writes in the Shadow World, the more details she will uncover.

Simon was definitely one of my favorites in this book, and I definitely look forward to rereading Tales form the Shadowhunter Academy. Alec also really gets the chance to shine in this book. The Blackthorn’s storyline is so heartbreaking, and it really shows the children’s strength.

I have no qualms with how this series is wrapped up. At the end, I love getting to see Jem and Tessa together, and I love how all the characters arc were wrapped up, but at the same time they were all set up for future stories.

Rereading The Mortal Instruments Books 1-4

I love reading new books, but I love rereading my favorite books just as much. It might be my terrible memory, but I always forget little details, and sometimes major ones, and when I reread a book it’s almost like I’m reading it again for the first time. One of the book series I reread the most is The Mortal Instruments, or anything by Cassandra Clare. In fact, I read it so much that I told myself I was not going to reread any Cassandra Clare book this year. This became a problem when Queen of Air and Darkness came out, because my terrible memory made me forget most of what happened in Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows. I tried reading Queen of Air and Darkness, but I just couldn’t get as into it because I knew I was forgetting so much of the story. Then by chance I browsed through my goodreads account and discovered that I actually haven’t read The Mortal Instruments series since 2016. I had no idea it’s been four years since I read one of my favorite series, so I decided to reread every book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I’ve read every book in the Shadowhunter Chronicles except Ghosts of the Shadow Market, Queen of Air and Darkness, Chain of Gold, and The Red Scrolls of Magic, so I’m excited to use this reread as a chance to finally get to these.

City of Bones

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I definitely feel the most nostalgic when I read City of Bones. Cassie Clare does such a good job introducing us to the Shadow World and immediately making me care about the characters. The banter in this book is so good, especially between Simon and Jace- it always makes me smile. I noticed that during this reread I found Clary slightly annoying. I forgot that I felt this way towards her, but I think in 2016 the last time I read this book I felt the same way. It probably has to do with the fact that I’m getting older, and Clary is written as a really stubborn sixteen-year-old girl. I think the angle Cassie Clare was going for is that Clary is so blinded by her love for her family and friends and her desire to save them that she doesn’t consider the consequences. I totally think this is a valid angle, but I feel like sometimes the lines got blurred between just being rude and being rude/abrasive for the sake of the people she loves.

City of Ashes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One aspect that majorly weirded me out in City of Ashes is the incest. I know it’s a super old scandal and it’s been talked about a lot, but it definitely bothered me this reread. I don’t think it really mattered that much to me when I first read these books. I think it’s because I knew they would end up together and not related, and also because when I first read this series the first five books were already out, so I was able to read the books back to back.

This is really the first book where hints and connections start getting dropped about all the different bloodlines, which did get me excited for the rest of the books.

The major setting for The Mortal Instruments is New York. It’s basically another character. I’ve never felt this before, but by the time I finished City of Ashes I was kind of sick of New York. I think this is because now that I’ve read most of The Dark Artifices, and I knew what was coming in City of Glass and later books, I was just really looking forward to getting to read about Idris, the Faerie Court, Los Angeles, and all the other places we visit. Finally my last gripe, if Jace would just talk about his problems so much could be avoided! I still love him, but he definitely annoyed me at parts. I actually ended up lowering my rating to four stars because after reading City of Glass, I realized I did not enjoy this book as much as others in the series.

City of Glass

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love City of Glass because finally we go to Idris and get to see more of the Clave and meet characters like Amatis and the Penhallows. Clary at the beginning still drove me pretty crazy, and I was glad when Luke, and even Amatis, finally gave her some parental-like guidance.

Valentine definitely bored me and I was glad to see him go. I think Sebastian is definitely more interesting, and I think his beliefs and methods are just a little more plausible to me as a villain. I just never really understood Valentines’ beliefs, which might have been the point because he’s basically got very Hitler-esque tactics.

I really love the ending because it wraps up so nicely. It’s really easy to see how this was originally intended to be a trilogy.

City of Fallen Angels

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This has a really slow beginning for me. I didn’t get excited until the last 75 pages. There’s a couple reasons this felt slow to me. First, we’re back in New York, which just makes me miss Idris. Second, because the last book wrapped up so nicely, this book is almost like a second first book. The plot had to be reestablished. This was also very heavily character based and not plot based, and part of what I love about Cassie Clare books are the major plot twists, so City of Fallen Angels just lacked a lot of that excitement for me.

I did enjoy this because I saw so much growth in Clary. She seems worlds more mature, which definitely makes sense given everything she’s gone through. I also really enjoyed getting to read more about Maia and getting introduced to Jordan.

6 Standalone Novels Even the Series Lover Won’t Be Able to Put Down

If you’re anything like me, you love a good series. The longer the better! I love getting invested in characters, and watching their growth and development over multiple books. I like stories with cliff-hangers and plot twists. For all these reasons, it’s so much easier for me to get into series than standalone novels. I’ve had issue with pacing in many standalone novels. The plot sometimes moves too quickly, and characters develop relationships that feel totally forced and lacking real connection. This all makes it really hard for me to be invested in the story. But not all standalone novels don’t work for me. Below are six fantasy and contemporary standalone novels that totally did it for me! Comment and let me know what standalone novels you love.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I’m always looking for a good mermaid book, and To Kill a Kingdom does not disappoint. Technically, the mermaids are sirens, and they are lethal killers. The characters are flushed out and complex, and they manage to go on an epic adventure all in one book.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

It’s pretty rare that I find a contemporary novel I like, and it’s even rarer I find one I love. Eliza and Wallace are such wonderfully written characters, with refreshingly honest struggles. This book is so dear to my heart, and I hope some of you will also love it. Read my full review here.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Roseblood is a Phantom of the Opera retelling set in modern times. The main character Rune is an opera singer at a boarding school, where she befriends Thorn, a mysterious masked violinist. The romance in this novel moved at just the right pace, and the plot kept me hooked the whole time. Read my full review here.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

This is the first contemporary book I read that I really loved. The description really doesn’t do this book justice. In less than 400 pages Jeff Zentner totally makes me fall in love with his characters, then breaks my heart. Read my full review here.

Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless takes place in a village where there is no sound, and where the people must mine metals in exchange for food that is delivered to them. The main character Fei decides to save her village when her people start losing their sight and when food runs low. It’s super refreshing to read a book where people communicate with sign language, and I think this book does it really well.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Beauty and the Beast retellings are pretty overdone, but this one is refreshingly original. The main character, Yeva, doesn’t suffer from special-snowflake-syndrome, like so many MCs do. The magic system is very unique and fits naturally into the world. I highly recommend if you want a read that will leave you satisfied, but also craving more! Read my full review here.

Please note that if you purchase the books above through my links, a small percentage will go towards supporting this website!

7 Great Autobiographies by Women that Everyone Should Read

If you love autobiographies or are just looking to get into the genre, here are 7 of my favorite autobiographies.

Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus by Carolina Maria de Jesus

This is a first hand account of life in São Paulo, Brazil, written in the late 1950s to early 1960s. De Jesus was an incredible woman, and more people today need to know her story.

Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me by Lily Collins

Usually, I am not a huge fan of celebrity autobiographies. It can be hard to relate to someone whose life is so different from your own. That being said, I found Lily Collins autobiography to be very moving. Her writing was sophisticated and relatable.

The Right to Choose by Gisèle Halimi

If you are looking for a short but powerful read, The Right to Choose is for you. Halimi writes about her childhood, as well as her lawyer work fighting to legalize abortion and make it more accessible to women of all economic backgrounds. This book is out of print, so it’s very hard to come by, but if you happen to see it listed online somewhere, or in a used bookstore, snatch it up!

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Kingston’s writing is confronting, gritty, and magical. The Woman Warrior details Kingston’s upbringing as a Chinese American in California. This is a great mixture of memoir, myth, and folklore, and Kingston does a great job of intertwining all three together to explore identity, family, and womanhood.

Dreams of Trespass by Fatema Mernissi

This is one of my personal favorite autobiographies. Mernissi’s writing is beautiful, and she weaves her own memories into the narratives of the women surrounding her. Mernissi gets readers to reimagine words and places that have long been defined by white colonizers.

Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog

This is another of my favorite autobiographies. Mary Crow Dog grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Lakota Woman chronicles her experiences as a Native American woman, including her childhood, strict missionary schooling, and her joining the tribal pride movement. Own-voices Native American literature is scarce, but this is a great place to start.

Anything We Love Can Be Saved by Alice Walker

This is one of those books that is great to read with a highlighter or pen in hand. I loved highlighting my favorite passages and making notes for myself to come back to later. Walker covers many topics in this work, from feminism to identity, but there is something in here for everyone.

Please note that some of the links are affiliate links, and if you purchase a book through them you are helping to support this website!