I recently talked about using Storygraph again, and while I was filling out the information of my 2021 reads, I realized how behind I was on my reading. So I decided to start reading
I don’t usually have a lot of time to read, especially since I was working two jobs up until recently, but then I was stuck being quarantined and I had all the time in the world! Or at least it felt like I did. I pretty much squandered a good whole week decomposing on my bed, BUT when the second week rolled in, I surprised myself at how quickly I went through a “stack” of books
1. IRON WIDOW
Technically, I’d started this one in September, but after binging about half of it (or maybe a bit more), I got stuck. I was busy doing other things and I just never got back to it. Then in just a few hours I DEVOURED the rest of it and WOAH. This was such an AMAZING read!! I’d heard everyone leaving some raving reviews and yes, I agree with everything!
Also, I feel like all the books before this had been very MEH, probably because I was reading NYT Bestsellers (for my job at the time) and they kind of really sucked. I mean, maybe there’s some good ones, but the ones I picked up just weren’t to my taste. So this was a very nice healing balm on my reader soul and I quickly got back into reading. It’s a book that’s full of RAGE by someone who has been wronged by her family and society, and instead of taking all the hits, she decides to strike back. It’s also the first time I’ve read a polyamorous romance and I enjoyed it. Actually, there’s a lot I really liked! All the characters had their own charm, the story was very dark and action packed, and THAT ENDING.
I can’t wait for the sequel!
So this one is actually a graphic novel that I’ve been eyeing for a while now. After months of holding back, I finally decided to buy it and OMG. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize the author!! The Prince and the Dressmaker is one of the few graphic novels I own, which I absolutely LOVED, and this book is by the same person! I was not disappointed. This story is more middle grade then tP&tD but just as lovely. It’s a book that talks about many hard topics that kids go through when trying to figure out their identity. In this case, we have Christine, who has high expectations for herself because of her parents, and because of this she often doesn’t allow herself to indulge in the simple pleasures like painting your nails and having time for yourself to just play. This changes when she meets Moon, who is unapologetically herself
It’s very fun but also tragic, especially towards the end where the book starts to talk about childhood illnesses. This felt very close to my heart as I’ve also had experience with this
3. DEADLY EDUCATION
The Last Graduate came out this year!! Which means that I had to reread Deadly Education again! I remember really enjoying Deadly Education (and just Naomi Novik’s female characters in general) but after more people began reading it, I heard there was some controversy. When I reread it this time, I kept this at the back of my mind, trying to see if there was anything I found offensive in the book, and who knows. Maybe I just didn’t spot it because it isn’t aimed at me, but I didn’t really find anything troubling. We are set in a location where high school students have to survive for four years at a sentient school built in a void. Survive what? Creatures named Mals that vary in shapes and sizes but that are all deadly in their own way. They appear out of nowhere, spoiling food, creating nests under your bed (or in your hair), crawling through the vents, and (most importantly and deadly) waiting for the next graduating class so they can devour them
The main character El is very fun. The story is told from her POV and she’s apparently this super badass that can set fire to the world, but she decides she doesn’t want this to be her future and so refrains from creating a spectacle of herself (thus causing herself to become a Loser). This changes in her junior year when she “befriends” and starts “dating” the school Hero Orion
I enjoyed it as much as my first read! And with this one reread, it was time to pick up the sequel…
4. THE LAST GRADUATE
In the Last Graduate, the tone slightly shifts. From what happened in the previous book, we know that Orion didn’t mind “dating” El because, well, he likes her. And now that I think about it, El is probably bookish tsundere character so that’s pretty much been their dynamic since book one. In book two, however, their interaction kind of becomes sweeter but also nonexistent at times. I kind of wish there had been more moments between them, or more moments in general with El and the people she loves. Ie. Her friends. In this book, El is so busy trying to figure out how she’s going to survive graduation that she almost neglects a lot of her relationships with others (but somehow also forges new ones). The book does have a lengthy lull in the middle, which I had to trudge through in audio format.
But if Naomi Novik knows how to do something it’s end a book well because THAT ENDING. So yes, I will once more be rereading this series, maybe, next year when book 3 comes around! I have no idea what to expect to happen next
So this book is one that’s A) not out yet and B) one that I picked up randomly. It wasn’t really on my TBR but I decided to login to Bookish First and saw that this one was up for a giveaway. Since I could use the points, I decided to check out the excerpt and just MINDBLOWINGLY AMAZING. This is my first time reading a book by Meyer and just, it’s such an amazing experience! Granted, I also enjoy fairytale retellings but this one was so IMMERSIVE. From the first pages, I was lost in the world that Serilda weaves for us. A Rumpelstiltskin retelling that’s full of death and gore and delicious darkness and violence. Definitely perfect for the spooky season!
Sadly, the excerpt was only so long, but then I found the book on Edelweiss and I downloaded it. I finished the rest of the book in record time (aka. I couldn’t put it down!). I was once more reminded of why I hate ARCs that have sequels! But I’m more than happy to reread this one many times over
Also, lucky me, but I ended up winning the giveaway!! So I actually got a copy of the book sent to my US address. I’m so happy to have a copy!! And if anyone is curious, BookishFirst is a website where you can read excerpt of certain books before they are released and then you can enter giveaways/raffles to win those books. It’s a sort of “free book in exchange for review” system. The nice thing is that you get points for every review that you write, be it on the site or elsewhere and then you can exchange these points for a book of your choice!
If you want some bonus points, feel free to use my code when you make a profile: 02c819d0c94cc1df0
6. Braised Pork
The last couple of books were some that had been on my TBR because they were new releases but after that, I wasn’t sure what to read anymore. Then I thought “hey, maybe I should check Netgalley”. So I did and I was reminded of my really bad score. My next goal for the rest of the year, I told myself, was to improve my rating score. I decided to start reading all the titles on my Netgalley shelf, starting from some of the oldest titles on there and Braised Pork was the first one.
I already knew I didn’t like fiction but the last year and a half of working at a bookstore, I realized that it’s not so much that I don’t like fiction (I mean, some of it is really good), it’s just that I find it boring. Contemporary stories have never been something I enjoy watching and the same goes with reading them. That said, I actually enjoyed Braised Pork (still trying to figure out what the title means, I wish I knew what this dish even was)
It was a really interesting story about a woman who finds her husband dead in the tub and her only “clue” to his death is a drawing of a “fish man” he left behind. She ends up feeling betrayed by his abandonment and comes to realize how much A) she missed out on because she married him and B) how much she relied on him for many things. After some time, she decides to go on a journey to find out where her husband saw this fish man, and it all becomes a bit of a spiritual journey. A way for her to finally move on but also learn about herself and mend her relationships
It’s very beautifully told and in a way that it feels like I also went on that journey
7. Second Sister
I have a feeling that when I was requesting these titles, I was either very specifically choosing all the Chinese authors or it was these books that just sounded the most interesting to me. I picked this one up next on the oldest to newest pile. I wasn’t really sure what I would encounter when I started reading this (I didn’t reread the summaries) so when it starts with a suicide I was like “oh, this is going to be DARK” and it was
We follow Nga-Yee, the older sister of Siu-Man, who jumps from their apartment’s balcony. When questioned by the police if she knows of any reason Siu-Man would commit suicide, Nga-Yee is confronted by the unluckiness that has haunted her family since her childhood; the way her father died and left her mother to raise two girls on her own, her mother’s overwork causing cancer to develop in her bones, and, being left alone, how she tried to raise her sister, only to find that a rift formed between them and she hadn’t realized. Why did Siu-Man commit suicide? Her first thought goes to the anonymous post online that accused her of many unsavory things, one being that she falsely accused someone of groping her on the train. Nga-Yee decides to investigate who wrote this post and is referred to N, a hacker
This was such a good read and I definitely recommend if you like Death Note and just tech-savvy speak. I had a very MINDBLOWN moment towards the end, and somehow, even with how dark the content got, there was also something very entertaining with the way Nga-Yee and N interacted. I would DEF read more with these two!
TW: suicide, suicide attempt, self harm, sexual assault and coercion, mentions of date rape scenario, cyber bullying, bullying, depression, mental health, manipulation, murder, attempt murder/revenge, underage sexual assault, pedophilia, victim blaming, misogyny and internal misogyny, very political, and probably more, especially towards the end when things start to be revealed
Now that I’m back to working, I won’t be reading as much as I did these 7 days, but hopefully I can make a nice dent in my Netgalley pile and get to those 70 books I want to read by the end of the year. With these books I am at 26 titles!