Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap on another round of Dewey’s! I had a great day reading, and I think it really helped me to de-stress a bit.

Dewey’s Closing Survey:

  1. How would you assess your reading overall?

I’m really happy with the amount of reading I got done during the readathon, and I’m even happier about the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed everything that I read.

I finished 3 books (technically 2 novellas and one novel) during the readathon, all of which I really liked and rated 4 stars:

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. HarrowOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghyThis Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

I also read from but didn’t finish 2 other books (one audiobook and one physical book):

The Anthropocene ReviewedThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)

Overall, I read a total of 623 pages and listened to 2.5 hours of audio.

2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?

I did! I had this idea of starting and ending the readathon with novellas, and that definitely worked well for me.

3. What was your favorite snack?

I’d made tabbouleh the day before and enjoyed snacking on that during the readathon.

4. Did you add any new books to your TBR/wishlist after seeing what everyone else is reading?

I saw that another reader had We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry in their stack, a book on my October TBR that I didn’t pick up during the readathon, which reminded me that I really need to get started on that one!

5. What was your favorite book or experience from this readathon?

Although I gave all 3 of my finished reads from Dewey’s 4 stars, I’d have to say that my favorite was Once There Were Wolves. I thought that the writing was excellent, I really liked the environmentalism themes, and it kept me thoroughly intrigued the entire time reading. Also, even though I only read the first 50 pages of The Heart Principle, I am absolutely LOVING IT so far. I love Anna as a new protagonist and I just find her chapters feel so realistic and immersive in her experience.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Mid-Event Survey & Updates!

We’re already halfway through Dewey’s 24-hour readathon! I’m always surprised by how fast the readathon goes by, but I’ve really been enjoying it so far.

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

The Anthropocene ReviewedThis Is How You Lose the Time War

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (essay collection) and also just started This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (science fiction novella).

2. How many books have you read so far?

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. HarrowOnce There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

So far, I’ve finished 2 books, A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow (fairytale retelling novella, 119 pages) and Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy (fiction, 256 pages). I’ve also listened to about an hour and a half of the John Green audiobook, and read the first 26 pages of Time War.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Good question. I’m always more productive during the first half of the readathon compared to the second, so I’m not actually sure that I’ll have a chance to finish another book after Time War, if I even do finish it. I’m kind of thinking I’ll want to read The Heart Principle next, which I’ve been really excited for, but I’ll honestly have to see where my mood and energy levels go.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I slept later than intended (until around 9:30, when the readathon had already been going on for an hour and a half) because I somehow woke up at 4am this morning and it then took me awhile to get back to sleep. But ever since I actually woke up and started reading I haven’t really been interrupted.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I’m surprised at my reading productivity! It’s been awhile since I’ve binge-read like this, and I felt like I was focusing much better today than in the past few rounds of Dewey’s. The fact that I finished 2 books that I thoroughly enjoyed is more than I expected for the readathon as a whole!

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon TBR

It’s time for another round of Dewey’s 24-hour readathon, one of my favorite bookish events of the year. I particularly like the October readathon, because it combines my love of fall/spooky season books with readathon-ing. Dewey’s is a fun, social, low-pressure readathon where the premise is to read as much as possible during a 24-hour period, which begins at 8am Saturday morning my time. I’ve never read for the full 24 hours (not even close!) but I do tend to find a lot of fun and stress relief in challenging myself to read as much as I can during one specific day.

It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve done a Dewey’s readathon; I have no idea what to expect in terms of how much reading I’ll get done, but I’m definitely looking forward to the mental health break. Here are some of the books I’m considering picking up during the readathon:

Novellas:

A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables, #1)This Is How You Lose the Time WarThe Monster of Elendhaven

I love reading novellas, and since they’re short, I tend to save them for readathons. I’m actually thinking of starting and ending the readathon with novellas, depending on my mood. I’m hoping to kick off the readathon with Sleeping Beauty retelling A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, and might try winding down later in the night with spooky-sounding dark fantasy The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht. I’ve also heard great things about futuristic F/F romance This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, which I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to during the readathon.

Novels (short-ish and all happen to be 2021 releases):

Once There Were WolvesThe Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)The Memory Theater

My typical readathon plan usually involves 1-2 novels that I’ve been really looking forward to; this year I’m thinking about environmental mystery Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, contemporary romance by a past favorite author The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang, and a book I’ve already started, dark fantasy The Memory Theater by Karin Tidbeck.

Audiobook

The Anthropocene Reviewed

I always need an audiobook option for readathons, and audiobooks have become a much larger portion of my reading in general in recent years. I started John Green’s new essay collection The Anthropocene Reviewed this week and plan to continue it during Dewey’s; I also have access to the audiobook for The Monster of Elendhaven via Scribd, so that’s a possibility as well.

Short story and poetry collections:

Of This New WorldLife on Mars

I don’t think I’ve ever actually picked up a short story or poetry collection during Dewey’s, but I think it would be a smart choice if my energy or attention starts lagging, so I’ve added a few options to my TBR.

 

September Reading Wrap-Up

I loved my reading in September. I started focusing on what I think of as fall reading–dark academia, paranormal, dark fantasy–while still picking up a few contemporary romances.

Total books read: 10

ARCs/review copies: 2

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland (Stay a Spell, #3.5)Half Truths by Claire ContrerasEmpire of Wild by Cherie DimalineThicker than Water by Tyler ShultzWitch Please (Fix-It Witches, #1)A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat HowardThe Charm Offensive by Alison CochrunA Deadly Education by Naomi NovikTwisted Circles by Claire ContrerasSatisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (5 stars) – To be honest, I was blown away by how much I loved this book. I expected to like it, sure, but I didn’t expect it to read it so quickly and immediately need the sequel. It hits the sweet spot of one of my favorite super-specific subgenres: books that simultaneously critique and pay homage to classic fantasy tropes, in this case the Chosen One narrative as well as magical schools. A Deadly Education is set in a magical school, sure, but not one you’d ever actually want to visit–its denizens are constantly trying to kill you, to the degree that less than half of its students survive to graduate, friendships are much rarer and less important than strategic alliances, privilege dictates your survival even more inside the school than out of it, and the class’s hero, Orion Lake, is protagonist El’s least favorite person, since he committed the cardinal sin of saving her life multiple times. This book is full of dark humor, which I’m a sucker for, and has a beautiful and unlikely friendship at its core. El has a magical affinity for powerful dark spells but steadfastly refuses to use them, even as her grumpy attitude makes everyone assume she’s evil anyways. She’s layered, and epitomizes the fact that you don’t have to be a likable protagonist to do the right thing. I will say that this book is very exposition-heavy, and although I loved it because I liked learning all about the world and the different creatures, it may frustrate some readers that there’s more description than plot at times.

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard (4.5 stars) – A collection of short stories (and one novella) centered around contemporary feminist retellings of myths and lore, which I absolutely loved. Some of the stories were 5 stars and some were 4 stars, which is why I’ve settled on 4.5 stars. Kat Howard has a style that’s lyrical and fabulist yet very approachable, and I’d recommend her work to both fantasy and fabulism fans. My favorite piece was the novella, Once, Future, which is a modern-day King Arthur retelling set on a college campus that also ruminates on the enduring power of myth.

Half Truths by Claire Contreras (4 stars) – An ideal fall read and my second Claire Contreras book of the year, after really enjoying Fables & Other Lies, a contemporary Gothic myth-inspired supernatural romance. Half Truths is a dark academia/suspense romance set at a fictional Ivy League school inspired by Cornell and Ithaca, NY. It’s full of secret societies, mystery, romance, and intrigue, as well as a smart, badass aspiring journalist protagonist. I ordered the sequel before I even finished this one, which should be a good indicator of how much I enjoyed it.

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland by Juliette Cross (4 stars) (eARC) – Returning to the world of the Stay a Spell series (which follows a family of witch sisters in charge of the New Orleans supernatural community) in this short story collection was an absolute joy, and this eARC arrived at exactly the right time to cheer me up. I highly recommend reading the first three novels in this series before picking this one up (or else several things will definitely be spoiled!) but otherwise, please do pick this up if you’re looking for a book to put you in a better mood.

Although I enjoyed all of the contemporary paranormal romance stories in this collection, my favorites were probably the return to Evie/Mateo/Alpha from the first book in this series, Wolf Gone Wild, and the much-foreshadowed friends-to-lovers story of JJ and Charlie, two side characters who appear in all of the books, as they’re close friends with the Savoie sisters. Juliette Cross does a great job of mixing sweet romance with spicy scenes, and this collection also made me even more excited than I already was for the next three books in this series (particularly Livvie’s enemies-to-lovers romance with a rival Grim!).

I received an eARC of Walking in a Witchy Wonderland from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thicker Than Water by Tyler Shultz (4 stars) – A short audiobook focusing on Tyler Shultz’s experiences working at Theranos and then becoming a whistleblower and source once he realized the unethical practices the company and its founder were involved in. I’m obsessed with the Theranos story, and with the ongoing trial of Elizabeth Holmes, I’ve been looking for more insight into everything that happened (I’ve already read Bad Blood, watched the HBO documentary, and am currently listening to two podcasts covering the trial…told you I’m obsessed) and I thought that Tyler did a great job telling his story. The tone is conversational and accompanied by acoustic guitar, which I also enjoyed. If you want a more comprehensive look at the Theranos fraud, definitely read Bad Blood, but this is a good accompaniment.

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters (4 stars) – A sweet, funny F/F contemporary romance between Cade, a buttoned-up New York art gallery owner, and Selena, an artist, who are thrown together when Cade’s aunt’s will prescribes that they work together to attempt to save her flagging feminist sex toy store in Portland. I really enjoyed the romance, as well as the characters’ support for each others’ growth and endeavors; I also laughed out loud several times while listening to this audiobook.

The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun (3.5 stars) – This book has become a bookstagram favorite, but it didn’t work quite as well for me as it seems to for everyone else. It’s set on a Bachelor-esque show, with a romance developing between the “prince,” Charlie, a tech entrepreneur, and his handler, producer Dev, who is a steadfast believer in true love despite what he sees behind the scenes of a reality TV show. I thought that the discussions of mental health in this book were great–Charlie is dealing with OCD, anxiety, and a panic disorder, while Dev is dealing with depressive episodes, and both were handled well with plenty of support and discussion. The romance was also very sweet, but I struggled with the plot and the pacing–both dragged for me, and I wish it had been tightened up a bit.

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline (3 stars) – A First Nations myth-inspired story of a determined woman’s search for her missing husband, who reappears with a seemingly new identity and no memory of her. A very interesting premise, but I found the execution lacking and the ending unsatisfying.

Twisted Circles by Claire Contreras (3 stars) – I really enjoyed Half Truths, the first book in the Secret Society series, for its dark academia vibes, mystery, and great romance. Unfortunately, Twisted Circles didn’t work nearly as well for me–I felt that both the romance and the mystery just weren’t as well-executed. The relationship was more instalove, without any real tension or suspense, and I didn’t like the direction that the plot took.

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre (3 stars) – Unfortunately, I did have some issues with this one.

On the plus side, I enjoyed the small-town, Sookie Stackhouse-esque vibes and tone of the book; the writing style often reminded me of Charlaine Harris’s. Witch Please is a sweet and lighthearted romance, which is sometimes very necessary, and I also enjoyed several of the side characters and the emphasis and family and friendship dynamics alongside the romance.

What didn’t work for me was the lack of plot; it felt like there was really only one main conflict in the book (one protagonist is a witch, the other is a mundane, and so they aren’t supposed to be together) without any other real hurdles, so the book often felt repetitive. I also had some serious issues with the lack of communication between the protagonists, some of which are spoilery, and the “resolution” at the end didn’t sit well with me. I also wish there had been more magic and general witchiness–for a book about witches, I thought the supernatural elements were lacking.

I received an eARC of Witch Please from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

August Reading Wrap-Up

I had an extremely productive reading month in August to round out my reading-heavy summer. I managed to pick up 2 of the books on my Top 10 2021 TBR list (hopefully this way I won’t be scrambling at the end of the year to finish it), read several contemporary romances (those always feel like very summery reads to me) and kept up fairly well with ARCs and review copies sent to me. Let’s get into some stats and reviews!

Total books read: 11

#readmyowndamnbooks: 8

ARCs/review copies: 3

The Vanishing Half by Brit BennettAll the Feels by Olivia DadeWhat We Lose by Zinzi ClemmonsThe Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila HarrisThe UnhoneymoonersFortuna Sworn by K.J. SuttonHow the Blessed Live by Susannah M. SmithBattle Royal by Lucy ParkerA Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersSo We Meet Again by Suzanne ParkPeople We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5 stars) – I absolutely understand the hype surrounding this book; it’s one of those that I kick myself for not having picked up sooner. It’s a character-driven, nuanced historical fiction book following twins whose paths in life vastly diverge after fleeing their small town when one of them disappears to pass as white; we then move ahead to follow the next generation of their family. It talks a lot about racism and gender roles, and the way its chapters skipped across time kept me hooked. Definitely recommend to all types of readers; I’m not normally a historical fiction fan, but it really doesn’t matter when a book is this good.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (4.5 stars) – Another book that I highly, highly recommend to pretty much anyone. It’s a short character study of a novel that proceeds nonlinearly in the life of a young woman whose mother is dying of cancer. It’s incredibly well-written and authentic, also heavily dealing with themes of identity and not feeling like you belong.

How the Blessed Live by Susannah M. Smith (4 stars) – Despite the fact that I rated this one 4 stars, I can’t deny that it was a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s set in Canada, with hints of myth, focusing on twins raised in isolation by their father and who split apart to opposite ends of the country as adults. I’m generally a huge fan of short fabulist novels, which this definitely is, and I did feel that the writing was lyrical and poetic, but I didn’t really feel that any of its themes were explored fully enough for it to feel like a complete work.

Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton (4 stars) – I took a chance on this one after seeing it recommended on Tiktok for ACOTAR fans, and the comparison is very apt–there’s fae, a tricky bargain, court intrigue, action, and romance. Protagonist Fortuna is a Nightmare, a being with the power to identify and manipulate fear, and her determination to save her brother against all odds drives the book. 100% going to continue with this series; already started the next book!

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker (4 stars) – I’ve been on a Lucy Parker reading spree ever since The Austen Project helped get me through a rough time last winter, and she’s actually my most-read author of 2021 so far. So I was highly anticipating her newest release, Battle Royal, because not only is it a new Lucy Parker book, but it’s inspired by the Great British Baking Show (which I love!) and is enemies to lovers (my favorite romance trope!). Luckily, this one definitely lived up to my expectations. It’s a cute, well-written romance with great chemistry, well-drawn side characters, and a hero and heroine you can’t help but root for. At times I did think that there were a few too many things going on in the plot, but I overall thoroughly enjoyed the read.

I was sent a free copy of Battle Royal from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (4 stars) – I think that Emily Henry is a great writer who excels at creating lovable characters you can’t help but root for. Although her newest contemporary romance is friends-to-lovers, which isn’t my favorite trope, I thoroughly enjoyed the read and how it was told simultaneously in flashbacks and present day, focused around the vacations that her protagonists formed a tradition of taking together each year. I liked this one slightly less (but only slightly!) compared to her previous book Beach Read, which was one of my favorite romances of 2020, and would highly recommend it to romance readers.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (4 stars) – An optimistic, hopepunk novella set in a far future where humans and robots live completely separately, robots having gained consciousness and choosing to live in nature away from humankind, and humans learning from their mistakes and coming to live in harmony with the environment. A tea monk and a robot become unexpected friends when the robot ventures to learn more about humanity, and the two quickly begin to learn from one another. While definitely not as strong as some of Chambers’s other work, I very much enjoyed the read.

All the Feels by Olivia Dade (4 stars) – The follow-up to Dade’s Spoiler Alert, All the Feels focuses on two of the prominent side characters of book 1: Alex, a charismatic actor in the Game of Thrones-esque show that the series centers around, and Lauren, a therapist who unexpectedly finds herself assigned to Alex as his minder after he’s involved in a scandal and the showrunner wants to keep him out of further trouble. Despite very different personalities–Alex is chatty, silly, and impulsive, whereas Lauren is pragmatic and measured–the two build a strong friendship and eventual romance while helping each other work through various emotional issues.

What I liked: I love the grumpy/sunshine dynamic in romance, as well as forced proximity, so the tropes in this one were definitely right up my alley. Like Spoiler Alert, both protagonists are in their 30s and established in their respective career paths, which I also appreciate as a 30-something myself, and I do continue to like the emphasis on emotional growth present in Dade’s romances. I found Alex in particular a fun and dynamic character, while Lauren was a great balance to his energy. This series also has a fantastic level of nerdiness to it that’s definitely not lacking in this installment.

What didn’t work for me: I had one significant issue with this book, and that’s how Lauren’s physical appearance was continually and negatively focused on. I’m all for romance heroes and heroines who don’t look like the stereotypical supermodel–I think that’s great, and I prefer it that way. But I really disliked how the author described her (over and over and over again) as looking like a bird. (Like, think of how Dee in It’s Always Sunny is referred to as a bird, but dial that up to 1000.) It seemed very unnecessary and a strange thing for the text to fixate on, and because it was so incessant, it was something that continually bothered me throughout the book (particularly as Lauren states it’s a descriptor that does bother her). I don’t think this is a big enough issue to avoid the book altogether, but it’s worth mentioning.

I received an eARC of All the Feels from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park (3.5 stars) – My first read from Suzanne Park, So We Meet Again felt more like a contemporary fiction read than a contemporary romance (which isn’t a bad thing, I just went in expecting more of a romance-focused book). We’re following Jessie, a career-focused 28-year-old who’s unexpectedly laid off from her prestigious Wall Street job and has to move back in with her parents in her hometown in Tennessee. She has a bit of a quarter-life crisis that manifests in her starting her own business and reviving her old YouTube channel, both of which are focused on Korean cooking hacks and specifically geared towards enhancing meal kits and/or making fast, tasty meals for career-focused millennials. While back in her hometown, she also runs into her childhood nemesis Daniel and has to deal with the new chemistry that seems to be developing between them while her new career takes off.

I enjoyed this book; as a fellow driven millennial, I found Jessie to be a very relatable main character and I actually enjoyed the more business-focused trajectory of the book despite the fact that I assumed it would be more of a romance. I normally like the trope of childhood enemies-to-lovers romances, but I found Jessie and Daniel’s chemistry to be a bit lacking, possibly because it wasn’t really given enough time to develop during the book. I did also find that Jessie’s business trajectory seems to progress much more quickly than felt realistic, although as I’m not an entrepreneur, I could be wrong about that! I’d recommend this to fiction readers wanting to dip their toes into romance, or to romance readers looking for a more plot-focused read.

I was sent a free copy of So We Meet Again by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (3 stars) – I’ve been really struggling to find mystery/thriller/suspense reads that work for me lately, and although I’d hoped this would be the exception, it unfortunately wasn’t. I found the premise and the publishing world setting really drew me in, but the plot meandered and the reveal at the end was not as strong for me as it could have been.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (3 stars) – This book was just OK for me. To be fair, it did help me out with some pretty bad insomnia I’ve been having, because being unable to fall asleep at 3am with no audiobook is a terrible feeling, and once I started listening to this one I was able to focus on the story and not my inability to sleep for a bit. There are a few too many coincidences and unbelievable plot points in this one, and I didn’t love that the main character and her twin sister both defined themselves in terms of being either lucky or unlucky, but it was overall an entertaining listen.

Summer TBR Smash-Up Readathon Recap

I decided to continue on with my reading tracking during the Summer TBR Smash-Up readathon this week, since I felt like I was on a roll after Bout of Books. Maybe 2 straight weeks of readathons will help me finish off strong in my August reading; maybe I’m just enjoying tracking my daily reading stats. Either way, let’s do it!

I had an unexpectedly insane week at work (not that work is ever not busy for me, but still) and I felt like tracking my reading helped keep me balanced in a way. During the weekend, I was thankfully able to catch up on some sleep, work out, see family, and read even more (although I read literally nothing on Sunday, oops). Let’s get into the stats!

Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)So We Meet AgainA Cathedral of Myth and Bone

Day 1

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 84 pages of Battle Royal by Lucy Parker, 14 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Day 2

Books started: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Books finished: Battle Royal, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Pages read: 131 pages of Battle Royal, 75 pages of So We Meet Again, 107 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Day 3

Books started: A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard

Books finished: None

Pages read: 115 pages of So We Meet Again, 38 pages of A Cathedral of Myth and Bone

Day 4

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 87 pages of So We Meet Again

People We Meet on VacationRestless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)

Day 5

Books started: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Books finished: So We Meet Again

Pages read: 63 pages of So We Meet Again, 50 pages of People We Meet on Vacation, 60 pages of Restless Slumber

Day 6

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 106 pages of People We Meet on Vacation, 32 pages of A Cathedral of Myth and Bone, 36 pages of Restless Slumber

Day 7

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: None

 

And here are my stats for the readathon as a whole:

Books finished: 3

Battle Royal by Lucy ParkerA Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersSo We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Books read from, but not finished: 3

A Cathedral of Myth and BonePeople We Meet on VacationRestless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)

Total pages read: 998 (!)

 

Bout of Books: Days 5-7 and Wrap-Up!

Like I expected, I wasn’t as productive with my reading during the last 3 days of Bout of Books. I did still manage to get a bit of reading done while enjoying a trip to Chicago to visit family; highlights included seeing an improv show at The Second City and eating at Little Goat and Sugargoat, two restaurants owned by Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard (I love Top Chef, and her food is AMAZING).

Here are my stats for the rest of the readathon:

Day 5

Books started: A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Books finished: None

Pages read: 26 pages of A Psalm for the Wild-Built, 50 pages of Battle Royal

Day 6

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 57 pages of Battle Royal

Day 7

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: None

 

Overall readathon stats:

Books finished: 3

The Unhoneymooners by Christina LaurenFortuna Sworn by K.J. SuttonHow the Blessed Live by Susannah M. Smith

Total pages read: 594

Books read from, but not finished: 3

Restless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)

Audiobook time: 4 hours

Bout of Books Updates: Days 1-4

So I’m dividing my Bout of Books blogging for this round into two parts: days 1-4 and then days 5-7, because on Friday (aka day 5) I’m leaving for a long weekend to go visit my brother in Chicago, and I won’t be able to post any updates until I get back. I’m not expecting to get a ton of reading done while I’m there, but I’ll probably at least do a little plane reading, and I still want to participate in the readathon even if it’s only a teeny tiny bit.

Now for my days 1-4 updates!

I’m honestly pretty impressed with my reading this week so far; I really wasn’t sure how much I would get done, but I was able to jumpstart the week on day 1 since I was off work that day. Mixing up my reading between physical books, audiobooks, and ebooks has also been helpful, as has the discovery of a new series that I’ve gotten really into (the Fortuna Sworn series, which I heard about on Booktok as a recommendation for ACOTAR fans). Most surprising to me is probably the fact that I finished 1 book each on the first 3 days of the readathon, which pretty much never happens for me (to be fair, I’d started them all prior to the readathon, but still!).

Fortuna Sworn (Fortuna Sworn, #1)The UnhoneymoonersHow the Blessed Live

Day 1

Books started: None

Books finished: The Unhoneymooners

Pages read: 225 pages of Fortuna Sworn, 31 pages of How the Blessed Live

Audiobook time: 4 hours of The Unhoneymooners

Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)Restless Slumber (Fortuna Sworn, #2)

Day 2

Books started: Battle Royal, Restless Slumber

Books finished: Fortuna Sworn

Pages read: 18 pages of Fortuna Sworn, 22 pages of Restless Slumber, 20 pages of Battle Royal, 40 pages of How the Blessed Live

Day 3

Books started: None

Books finished: How the Blessed Live

Pages read: 50 pages of How the Blessed Live, 40 pages of Battle Royal

Day 4

Books started: None

Books finished: None

Pages read: 15 pages of Battle Royal

Bout of Books TBR

Grab button for Bout of Books

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 16th and runs through Sunday, August 22nd in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 32 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

It’s time for another round of the Bout of Books readathon! I love this one because it’s low pressure and lasts a full week, so even if I have things going on there’s usually time to get some reading done. This time, I’m really not sure what my reading is going to look like–I’m working Tuesday through Thursday and then leaving on a little trip to Chicago Friday, and won’t return until next Monday night. So with the trip and packing there is a non-zero chance that I’ll end up throwing in the towel halfway through the readathon. But hey, let’s try anyways!

I’m currently reading several books that I’d like to finish and/or make progress on during the readathon:

How the Blessed LiveFortuna Sworn (Fortuna Sworn, #1)The Unhoneymooners

This weekend I started How the Blessed Live by Susannah M. Smith (fabulism), Fortuna Sworn by K. J. Sutton (fantasy/romance), and The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (contemporary romance).

I also have a few in mind that I’d really like to start in the near future:

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)Battle Royal (Palace Insiders #1)The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)

Next up on my radar are A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (science fiction), Battle Royal by Lucy Parker (contemporary romance) and The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (also contemporary romance).

July Reading Wrap-Up

July was a productive reading month for me, but unfortunately I didn’t end up finding any new favorites or 5-star reads. I did, though, read several ARCs, plenty of romance, a few nonfiction, and several great 2021 releases. Let’s get into the stats and reviews!

Reading stats

Total books read: 12

ARCs/review copies: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Audiobooks: 3

ebooks: 2

Hang the Moon by Alexandria BellefleurTalk Bookish to Me by Kate BromleyWitches Get Stitches by Juliette CrossTeddy Spenser Isn't Looking for Love by Kim FieldingAct Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia HibbertOut of Character by Annabeth AlbertSweep with Me by Ilona AndrewsIt Happened One Summer by Tessa BaileyYou Play the Girl by Carina ChocanoReasons to Stay Alive by Matt HaigFor the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)The Humans by Matt Haig

Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross (4 stars) – I love this series so much. In the third installment of Juliette Cross’s Stay a Spell series, which focuses on a family of witch sisters living among the supernatural community of New Orleans, we’re following tattoo artist, new business owner, and prickly psychic witch Violet, who’s fighting feelings for werewolf musician Nico despite a past hookup since her psychic readings show that a relationship between them isn’t in the cards. Along the way, we get plenty of appearances from Violet’s sisters (and hints of relationships to be focused on in future books) as well as their sweet, supportive family dynamics; drama and adventures among New Orleans’ various species of supernaturals; and watch Violet develop a new type of spell related to her tattoo artist skills. The romance in this story is fantastic; it rivals the first book in the series, Wolf Gone Wild, for my current favorite. I loved Violet and Nico together but at the same time could very much understand Violet’s hesitance to get involved with him due to her ominous tarot card reading about their relationship. I can’t wait for the next books in this series! I received an eARC of Witches Get Stitches from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (4 stars) – I was a bit hesitant to pick up this nonfiction book about depression, which turned out to be part memoir, part information and discussion about different aspects of depression, because as someone who’s struggled with depression, I can be a bit picky about how it’s talked about in books. Haig’s take, however, is wholly genuine; his descriptions of his experiences will ring true to anyone who has struggled or is struggling with depression. His goals with this book–to remind people that they’re not alone, and that the world is better with them in it–never feel like they’re being depicted artificially or condescendingly, which I very much appreciated. I’d recommend this to anyone with a history of depression; the audiobook narrated by the author is particularly good.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (4 stars) – I really, really enjoyed this enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance, which is also the third and final book in Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series. I’m actually not sure anymore which book is my favorite of the series (between this one and Dani’s book) but I definitely know that this is one of my favorite romances of 2021 so far. Eve, the youngest Brown sister, has a history of many jobs and career paths without ever finding the right one for her, and after her parents step in to try and take control of her path forward, she stumbles upon a job opening for a chef at a B&B while fleeing the upsetting situation. Unfortunately, however, she accidentally hits grumpy B&B owner Jacob with her car in the process, which means that Jacob is reluctantly forced to hire her to help him out while he recovers from his injuries. Their romance is very sweet, as they discover that they have more in common than was initially apparent, and Eve gradually comes to realize that she might just have found the place for her after all. I can’t wait to read even more from Talia Hibbert; I believe that her next series is going to be a spinoff from the Brown sisters set in the small town where the B&B is located, and I’ve picked up a few from her backlist too.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (4 stars) – I really enjoyed reading For the Wolf, a fantasy constructed around the concept of a mysterious and ancient forest that demands a sacrifice in exchange for keeping its monsters locked inside–a sacrifice in the form of the Second Daughter of the queen, who is marked as being “for the Wolf, and the Wolves are for the Wilderwood.” Our Second Daughter protagonist Red is determined to fulfill her role, although not for the reasons we might think; likewise, the Wolf she meets in the Wilderwood is not the monster everyone expects. I really enjoyed the magical, enigmatic Wilderwood, the dynamic between Red and the Wolf, the growing complexity of the plot, and the earthy magic system. I’d recommend this to readers who enjoy fantasy with intrigue and a bit of romance!

I received a free copy of For the Wolf from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Out of Character by Annabeth Albert (3.5 stars) – The second gamer-centric m/m contemporary romance I’ve read from this author wasn’t quite as strong as the first, Conventionally Yours; I wasn’t quite as attached to either of the main characters as I was in the first book. That being said, overall I still enjoyed this audiobook and will keep an eye out for what Albert publishes in the future.

Sweep with Me by Ilona Andrews (3.5 stars) – Since Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite authors, my standards for their writing may be a bit high; unfortunately, although this was a fun return to the world of the Innkeepers and their intergalactic guests, it wasn’t my favorite of theirs.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur (3 stars) – The sequel to Bellefleur’s stellar f/f contemporary romance Written In the Stars, Hang the Moon features Stars protagonist Darcy’s younger brother and best friend falling for each other while their friend group attempts to convince the best friend to move to Seattle. I really loved getting to see more of Darcy and Elle as a couple, and I think that the friendship dynamics here were really sweet, but I wasn’t overly a fan of Brendan and Annie’s romance.

You Play the Girl by Carina Chocano (3 stars) – A nonfiction book about gender roles and how they are influenced by pop culture that unfortunately wasn’t overly successful for me. I’ve read a lot about this and related topics in the past, and I didn’t feel that this book brought up any new insights or arguments; I also felt like the author spent too much time in pop culture discussion and description and not enough time drawing conclusions or doing analysis.

The Humans by Matt Haig (3 stars) – After reading Haig’s nonfiction book centered around depression, I was drawn to immediately pick up another book by him. This one didn’t work quite as well for me. It’s a great concept–an alien comes to Earth for the first time disguised as a human and has to learn about humans while simultaneously erasing any knowledge of a mathematical theorem that could lead humankind to advance technologically before they are ready–that I didn’t feel was explored enough to be successful. I also really could have done without the romance that the alien forms with the wife of the man whose body he’s wearing.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (3 stars) – A fish-out-of-water contemporary romance following Piper, an L.A. party girl, whose antics get her banished to a small town in Washington where crab fishing, not designer labels or social reputation, is the center of life. Not only that, but it’s where she and her younger sister Hannah, who accompanies her for her banishment, grew up with their father, who passed away when they were young and who they no longer remember. Through connecting with her roots, Piper meets crab ship captain Brendan, a gruff, set-in-his-ways-never-leaving-this-small-town kind of guy, and the two rapidly fall for each other despite their differences.

I’ve been finding it a bit difficult to write this review, because I had very mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really enjoyed the majority of my reading experience–I think that Tessa Bailey has a fun, compelling, easy-to-follow writing style; I liked the development of Piper and Hannah’s relationship to their father’s town and its interesting side characters; I liked Piper’s growth and new belief in herself as someone other than just a party girl; and I really liked music nerd Hannah and the potential for her story in a future book. But I was really put off by the rigid gender roles Bailey portrays in this book, and the consistently gendered language she used on a repetitive basis anytime there was an interaction between Piper and Brendan. I just don’t think that in 2021 we should be enforcing the ideas that “men are like this, and women are like this” without any acknowledgement of people who fall outside the gender binary, or of men and women who don’t fit the prescribed roles that society may set for them. It’s not only that this is mentioned once or twice either–it’s a constant throughout the story that left a bad taste in my mouth despite an otherwise enjoyable read. For that reason, I’d caution readers about this element before picking this one up, even though there were a lot of things I did like about the story.

I received an eARC of It Happened One Summer from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Teddy Spenser Isn’t Looking for Love by Kim Fielding (3 stars) – A cute but imperfect contemporary romance between a designer and a programmer working at the same startup who are sent to woo a potential investor despite the fact that they’ve never really gotten along. It’s not really enemies-to-lovers as advertised (it’s too sweet for that), and although I did enjoy the read, I wasn’t blown away by it.

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley (2 stars) – I was really disappointed and frustrated by this one. It’s a contemporary romance with an author/bookstagrammer main character (although the bookstagram components felt very much shoehorned into the story), but unfortunately I really couldn’t root for the main couple to be together. At all. They were both fairly frustratingly terrible people, but the love interest in particular was condescending and treated the main character terribly. To be fair, it’s a second chance romance, which is definitely not my favorite trope, but I really can’t at all recommend this book.

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers