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.

A Valentine’s Note

It is the 14th of February and for some that means excitement and for others it means dread. I’m somewhere between the two as I spend every year watching horror or otherwise unsettling films that I’ve yet to see yet.

Whether you’re with someone or spending time on your own, what matters the most of taking care of yourself as well. Feed some kind of love into something you enjoy doing, or towards a friend or family member. It can be hard to remember that there is more to love than a partner this time of year but doing your best to remember that is what counts.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know me and my cynical (read as: single) behind have been suffering from an obnoxious head cold this week so I haven’t gotten any reading done. It’s very frustrating but rest is what I need considering I still need to go to my day job. However, I have been doing a bit of writing here and there, so if you’re in the mood for some preview reading I have just the thing for you!

Elsker og kvaler: A Love Story In Denmark is a novella told through vignettes that I’ve been playing with from some time about a vampire who falls in love with an actress and his struggles with the loss of mortality and fitting in with modern society. Full of dorky flirting, bloodshed, and a dash of smut, I’ve been posting this story on Wattpad for the time being and you are able to read that here!

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers. I hope you have a nice day regardless of the capitalist holiday behind this one, haha!

We All Need A Break Some Time

It’s been a weird week, and a long weekend.

Some really good things happened but I also haven’t been feeling like myself at all. A lot of what’s going on lately feels like one step forward two steps back, which we all know is not helpful, productive, or fun at all.

Because of this, I think I’m going to step back for a few days and just give myself a chance to get caught up on the things I need to get caught up on without feeling all stressed out. This includes the Throne of Glass read-a-long I’m hosting (the next Crown of Midnight post was supposed to go up today but I don’t think it’ll be up until Monday or Tuesday at this rate).

I just need a minute to breathe and I don’t feel like I’ve had that chance in awhile.

Thank you everyone for your understanding.

An Update

Things haven’t been great the last few weeks, and as I thought things were beginning to look up, I got knocked down once again.

This month was supposed to be full of fun Star Wars posts that I had had planned out for months, but – as is usual for me lately – mental health has gotten in the way. A lot of rough stuff has been going on behind my camera and I just don’t have the strength or energy for a lot of things these days, from photos to even just reading. It sucks and I’m trying my best but there’s only so much I can do right now to try and make things better. It’s hard when you feel like you’re getting punched in the face no matter what it is you do.

Let’s hope that June is better and I can put some pride into my work again. I don’t want to let people down like I keep doing to myself.

Until then, here’s a pretty photo of my Steve Harrington funko pop, looking about the same as how I feel.

IMG_5338
Find this photo and more on my Instagram — @lucieninthestars

 

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