Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2021

This has been another great month! I read and reviewed quite a few awesome books, but I slowed my reading pace down quite a bit. I finished my TBR for the month, though. So, I’m definitely still making progress and well on my way to completing my Goodreads challenge very early this year. I also got a lot of writing done, which was one of the main reasons for the slow down in reading. I added over 10,000 words to my current work in progress for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

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Monthly Wrap-Up: June 2021

Hello, everyone! This has been a really great month. I met my TBR goals and reviewed quite a few awesome LGBT books, which you’ll see below. At the beginning of the month, I decided to read only LGBT books to celebrate Pride month, and I enjoyed being able to celebrate the month in a way that was special to me. I did slow down my reading and review pace a bit this month, but I still managed to post content here daily by doing some new types of posts I’ve never done before. Overall, I’ve enjoyed my progress this month and am looking forward to seeing what July has in store!

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Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2021

Hello, everyone! This month has been a whirlwind. I crossed 1000 views and 500 likes here on the blog. Thank you all so much for the support! I’ve managed to post daily for the entire month, which was more difficult to keep up with than I thought it would be. I’ll probably slow down a bit for a while, but I have some great things planned for June, as well. So, we’ll see. It will probably depend on how busy work is in the near future. I made quite a bit of progress on my reading goals this month, and I actually finished my monthly TBR for the first time! Check out all the details below:

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Book Review – Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Length: 435 pages

Read Date(s): May 15, 2021 – May 16, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Reading Challenge Update

Before I get to the review, I wanted to celebrate the fact that this is my 50th book of the year! I can’t even remember the last time I read 50 books in a year. Honestly, it may never have happened before. So, I’m excited to have reached this milestone. It also means I’m already halfway to my goal for the year!

Goodreads Synopsis

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

My Review

NOTE: This review contains some spoilers. So, read on at your own risk if you haven’t read the book yet!

I liked this book more than the first one. It had the same engaging style and witty dialogue that I enjoyed from the first book. It also gave me many of the things I felt were missing from the first book. I wanted to see more of the machinations at court and deeper building of the world and lore, and I got it. This book provided a lot of background information about the amplifiers that helped me understand the plot of both this story, and the previous one, much better. It also spent more time devoted to politics and the squabbles of the royal family, which I enjoyed.

Alina’s character was also deepened considerably throughout the course of the novel. It was interesting to see her grapple with what to do with her power now that she accepted it. She grew in many ways, and I liked reading about her struggle with learning politics and how to become a leader. The loneliness and greed that can often accompany great power and positions in leadership were things she worked to understand and overcome during the story while also navigating relationships with a wide range of men who wanted to use her power for their own gain. These struggles made the character much more relatable.

The new additions to the cast in this book were fantastic. I especially loved the privateer and his relationship with Alina. They had great chemistry and a playful dynamic. I enjoyed his charisma and intellectual nature because they added some levity to the book.

The one character I still hated was Mal. His pettiness and jealousy almost ruined this book for me. The relationship between him and Alina is super angsty. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; he just always seemed to be holding Alina back. I think her relationship with him is the security blanket that she needs to grow beyond to come into her own, and I can only hope that will happen before the series is over.

The plot of this book left a lot to be desired, as well. I was frustrated by the first several chapters because it felt like a lot of the character development, especially for Alina, had been undone, and the story quickly became a rehash of the same plot points from the first book. I think at one point she even commented in the book that they were right back where they started. Luckily, that changed pretty quickly into the book, but I still think the beginning could have been better. After the rough beginning, most of the book was spent preparing for a siege, as the name of the book implies. I enjoyed this because it gave time for learning about the world, the character development, and politics. However, not a whole lot happened plot-wise during this time. Then after all the time preparing, the climax of the book only lasted 20-30 pages, if that. I enjoyed how it all happened, but I wish more time had been spent describing the actual siege. In the end, the characters are largely in a similar situation to the one at the beginning of the book, which was frustrating after reading over 400 pages, but my feelings of frustration were tempered by knowing many of the characters have grown because of what happened in the book.

Another big complaint is the lack of the Darkling for most of the book. He was my favorite character from the first book. So, I was disappointed not to see more of him. He literally phoned in his appearances, but they were still well done and continued to build his creepiness. I think the story may have been better if we got to see some of the things he was doing from his POV, but I also get that it’s really Alina’s story. I’m just hoping he will have more of a presence in the next book.

Overall, the book was an improvement on the first one. It added many elements I thought were lacking in the first book (more info about amplifiers, politics, and deeper world-building). I also liked most of the themes and characters a lot more, except for Mal. The plot wasn’t perfect, but it was interesting. I just wished there was more of the Darkling. Therefore, I rated the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read Siege and Storm? What did you think?

Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2021

Hello, everyone! It seems that another month has already flown by! My blog has continued to grow (thank you to everyone who stops by to read the posts), and I’ve been increasing the amount and types of content. It’s been a lot of fun to experiment with all the different posts, but it has also been a bit exhausting keeping up with it all and trying to read books too. That being said, I made a lot of progress on my reading goals this month, which you’ll be able to see below.

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Update: 2021 Reading Challenge

As part of starting this blog, I decided to increase my reading goal to 100 books for this year. For the past few years, I have typically averaged between 15 and 30 books per year. So, this new goal is a huge step up from my past reading habits. As of today, I have finished 25 books so far this year, which I consider to be a huge accomplishment. Overall, I’ve enjoyed reading them all, and I’m excited to recap some of my favorites from before I started reviewing my reads on the blog.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this follow up book to Carry On. It was refreshing to see what happens after the hero wins the day, and I liked its exploration of what the ‘chosen one’ does after he is no longer so special. I also loved the LGBT representation in this book. It was a great read to start the year!

The Accursed Kings Series by Maurice Druon

This series is an historical fiction tale describing the fall of the Capetian French dynasty and the beginning of the Hundred Years War. It is a fantastic tale of kings, queens, and nobles filled with intrigue, murder, and political plotting. I started reading the series because I wanted to learn more about French history after learning some details about my own French ancestry. I enjoyed the series immensely as a whole, but some of the books were better than others. The writing style changed abruptly for the last book, and it was a struggle to get through it. It seemed almost superfluous to the story. However, the rest of the series was well done and told a very engaging story while providing interesting info about French history. The books in the series are

  • The Iron King ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Strangled Queen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Poisoned Crown ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Royal Succession ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The She Wolf ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lily and the Lion ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The King Without a Kingdom ⭐⭐⭐

Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

⭐⭐⭐⭐

I think this was a good first entry to the High Republic crossover event. It set up many characters, and the disaster that starts the book off was interesting. I found the particulars of the disaster and hyperspace to be somewhat confusing, but it didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story. I enjoyed seeing the Jedi order and Republic in action during a different time period, and I am looking forward to seeing how this golden age turns into the corruption of the Senate and deterioration of the Jedi order seen in the prequel movies. The villains were intriguing but not up to par with the threat of the Sith. However, the book made it seemed as if there is still more to them than we know. Overall, I think it was a good introduction to this time period.

A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book, which was a pleasant surprise. I bought it so I wouldn’t miss out on parts of the High Republic story, but I didn’t expect much from it since it is a children’s book. However, the story was really good and tackled some deep themes well, especially coping with loss and grief. It ended up being my favorite of the first wave of High Republic books. If you were thinking of skipping it…don’t!

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not by Carrie Thompson

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of the first audio dramas in the Time Lord Victorious multimedia event. It is a Western story set on an alien planet. It was fun, and I enjoyed the introduction of Brian the Ood. I didn’t see how it would relate to the overall event at the time, but it sets up some things that become relevant in later stories.

I look forward to seeing what is in store in the next 75 books throughout this year. As always, I will keep you all posted. What are some of your favorite reads so far this year?