2020 Monthly Wrap-Up: April

We’re at this point again, and I can’t tell if it went by ridiculously fast or not. With the pandemic, it’s been tricky keeping track of passing time. But I did get a decent amount of reading done even if – once again – I didn’t get to all of the books on my planned TBR.

What I did read included:

Of this list, three of them were review copies from NetGalley and I didn’t get to review two of the manga novels in individual posts as I like having an Instagram photo for my reviews and it’s tricky to get nice ones on a Kobo. But I can review them in this post!


HELL’S PARADISE #1 by Kaku Yuji

This was a prime example of a flawless manga.

Having read a lot of first volumes of new series lately, it feels like something is always missing. Either the story is lacking or the emotional connection isn’t there or the artwork is rough. However, this first volume of Hell’s Paradise is perfection. The story had me right from the beginning with how it got right down to the gritty details, and the artwork is so gorgeous I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.

I already can’t wait for volume two and for those who are long time manga readers, this has major Big 3 energy. The potential in this story is huge and I can’t wait to read more.

BEASTARS #1 by Itagaki Paru

I enjoyed this volume well enough. It was a solid introduction volume and the world is solidly fleshed out through both dialogue and narration script so it made for a fast read. As a fan of animal stories like this (or furry stories I guess would be more useful of a term), I enjoyed the way the plot is layering itself and seeing how the different species interact with each other. That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of the rough art style but it is definitely a stylistic choice rather than a “quality” thing. I’m unsure if I’ll be continuing the series but I’m glad I gave it a shot. Maybe the anime would be more my speed.


There was another book from NetGalley that I only got half-way through before I had to mark it as DNF, and that was We Are The Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian. I was really excited about the book and the idea of the girls getting back at their gross coach was a theme that I was hyped for. However the six POVs and the fact that the books “technically” takes place over 24 hours – despite repetitive flashbacks that never seem to end – just makes the book feel really jagged. Unimportant things seem drawn out and important things don’t seem to be present. I also found the switching back and forth between past and present tense was distracting. Sadly this book was not for me.

I’ve got fun plans on Instagram for May with my good friend, Sophie (of Outer Rim Reviews), hosting a Star Wars themed photo challenge and I’ve got a blog tour post coming at you next week for a current read. Here’s to May getting a little easier for all of us.

 

A Different Kind of Wrap-Up

March 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. The isolation required has left some of us productive, some of us stir-crazy, and some of us struggling with major depression and anxiety. If you’re like me, you’re all of the above.

I had big plans for March, but have not successfully managed to get to them all for a number of reasons. I had another cold in the middle of the month that knocked me flat, and then the anxiety of COVID-19 took a major hold on me. My day job in customer service set me on edge and I was having a hard enough time holding it together enough to function let alone get reading or writing done.

However, I still read a decent number of books towards the beginning of the month and I am very pleased about that, even if it still means I didn’t read all of my TBR books.

There was only one book I marked as DNF and it was Cries from the Lost Island by Kathleen O’Neal Gear. It was so boring and stiff that I just couldn’t make myself read it. It was an eARC from NetGalley and I thank the publishing company for sending it to me, even if it definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.

While I haven’t finished it yet, I’ve been making slow and steady progress through The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski, the “first” book in his famous Witcher series. In all honesty, I have done my best to take deep breaths and focus on reading, a lot of my time has been spent playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. I’ve been a huge fan of the Animal Crossing franchise since I was about 8 or 9 and the new game has been a huge help at being a distraction from the rest of the world (as I’m sure the majority of you are aware).

Given the pandemic, I’m currently out of work so I am hoping to spend the provincial quarantine reading and doing more articles for this blog as well as maybe some short stories. I have tried in the past to post shorts here but have not had much success in people reading them, so we’ll see about that.

I know everyone is getting annoyed with hearing this but I do sincerely hope that everyone is staying safe in these uncertain times.

Take care of yourselves.

March Wrap-Up and April Goals

March wasn’t a very good month.

I let my anxiety get the best of me and as a result I made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of my own time. I only finished one of the several books I was hoping to get to and really only read three books total. Not the best in terms of my usual.

That being said I also came to the conclusion that even wrap-up posts put a lot of pressure on me to be reading as often as I can be, which isn’t always realistic. Instead what I need to focus on is writing reviews when I finish the books I’m reading (oops).

I’m hoping things can quiet down a bit come April, and that I can focus on staying away from screens and get through some of the heftier books with the help of Audible (which I am loving right now). This is also why I’m breaking my own small-TBR rule and picking a bunch of things so here’s the list!

  • Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas — as part of the read-a-long this month
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama — switching between Audible and the physical copy of the book every few chapters
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan — officially out tomorrow (April 2, 2019)
  • Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon — will be using Audible for this beast that I wasn’t able to get to in March
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  • The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling — officially out April 19, 2019! Thanks to the author for my ARC
  • Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey — for the next IGTV episode of Fantasy Flashback (watch the first episode here, the transcript/written review is coming soon)

So that’s it for now! Lots of reading to do to make up for the missteps in March. What are you reading this month?


 

February Wrap-Up

February has been a bit of a rough month, but I’ve made it through and did a decent amount of reading at the same time!

While I didn’t meet my reading goal in terms of books I hoped to finish, and I also lowered my GoodReads goal from 100 down to 80, I’m proud of what I was able to read despite the things in my personal life I’m dealing with. Not to mention I did end up reading two out of three of my goal books (Six of Crows and Throne of Glass).

So far this puts me at 16/80 books read this year and I’d say that’s not too shabby!

How did you do this February?


Finished Books

  1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  2. Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3) by Martha Wells
  3. A Victorian Flower Dictionary by Mandy Kirkby
  4. Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok
  5. the mermaid’s voice returns in this one by Amanda Lovelace
  6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  7. The Strange Case of Moderate Extremists by Alexander McCall Smith

In-Progress

  1. Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
  2. The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
  3. Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Did Not Finish

  1. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Coles
  2. Some Girls Bind by Rory James
  3. Limetown by Cote Smith

MARCH WRAP-UP

I don’t have a witty title for this one, but I read a ton of stuff this month from non-fiction to graphic novels. All of these total to 13 books read! I’ve also raised my reading goal from 75 to 100 as I’ve been just devouring books lately and want to see if I can really challenge myself to get off my phone and stop watching the same four shows on Netflix.

TOP

For my top read of March, I’m making an odd decision. Although it isn’t my top rated for the month, I’m saying that Wonderblood by Julia Whicker was my favourite (you can read my review here). Available as of April 3rd, Wonderblood is a fascinating look at how the disastrous spread of a virus can completely regress an entire country (at least) in only a few hundred years. It’s a wonderful look at the animosity of humans and combines magic with science in a way I’ve never seen before.

No, it wasn’t the highest rated of the month, but it was so different that I very much hope that people pick up a copy whether from the bookstore or from the library.

BOTTOM

Sadly, the biggest disappointment this month was probably Fire Song… It looked like such a great story about the struggles First Nations people face and how much worse those struggles are when being gay/two-spirit is thrown into the mix. I was hoping for a lot more out of this novel and was sorry to see it not be as strong as I was hoping.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Honorable mention this month goes to The Wicked + The Divine. I read three volumes in as many days and am so in love with this series, it would be wrong not to mention it. It’s harsh and deep and violent and lovely and it’s such an amazing series, Kieron Gillen can do no wrong.

Not to mention art from Jamie McKelvie is stunning as always (I, personally, enjoyed his art on the reboot of the Young Avengers series) and the guest artists of volume 3 were all so gorgeous and so different yet all still suited the God they were each given. Amaterasu’s backstory was especially gorgeous with art from Stephanie Han (another artist I love from Gillen’s run on Journey into Mystery).

DID NOT FINISH

  • The Devil’s Revolver – V.S. McGrath

Reason: Just couldn’t get into it even after four attempts at it.

  • Romanov – Samaire Provost

Reason: I have high standards for vampires and this did not meet them.

  • The Measurements of Decay – K.K. Edin

Reason: Wasn’t a fan of the writing style.

Complete March Read List

  • BRAVE – Rose McGowan
  • Fire Song (ARC) – Adam Garnet Jones
  • The Hostile Hospital – Lemony Snicket
  • The Carnivorous Carnival – Lemony Snicket
  • The Ultimate Guide to Divination (ARC) – Liz Dean
  • Wonderblood (ARC) – Julia Whicker
  • Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon – Delilah S. Dawson
  • Saga Volume 1 – Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  • The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemoneum – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  • The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  • Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick – Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
  • Ace of Shades (ARC) – Amanda Foody
* ARCs – Advanced Reader Copies – were provided by NetGalley