Memo Pad: July Wrap Up

I think I should just start pretending I mean to post my monthly wrap ups in the next month rather than keep saying it’s late. What do you think?

Anyway. What happened in July? I’m asking myself that question because at this point I can’t remember!

Writing wise, I managed to get the first two chapters of my new contemporary fantasy rough drafted. It was a lot less than I’d planned originally. I had wanted to get four or five done. BUT having finished my intense revision of my scifi and going through a move it was, in the end, more than I expected. I also started writing up my second round revision plan for my scifi based on feedback which I’m currently doing but I’ll tell you about that in my August wrap up.

Life wise, it’s been hectic. I’m STILL going through the house move. It’s been six weeks since we sold and moved out of our house and we still haven’t completed or moved IN to our new one. There seemed to be a new problem everyday BUT we finally have a moving in date which is this month. So hopefully when you hear from me in my next wrap up I’ll be talking to you from there! (Although I don’t know how long it’ll take to sort out Internet so that wrap up might be late for a good reason!)

But onto my reading for July. It was a pretty mixed month. I read some books I LOVED, but a lot of books didn’t quite work for me for various reasons. It happens, I guess.

(Links, as always, go to the books goodreads page)

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Mini Reviews July: Novellas, Superheroes, & Autistic Rebels

My reading has been a bit all over the place, but I’ve finally reviewed the last book I read last month, along with a couple novellas, a short story and also two books for this post! And as usual for these mini review posts I’m going to dive right in.

Waking up the Sun by Laura Bailo ***** (Review Copy)

A quiet stakes sweet m/m fantasy romance novella that was an easy and cosy read. Lander enters the forest near where he lives on a dare but when he turns around the tree line is nowhere in sight. Trapped inside the magical forest that refuses to let him leave he meets Yban who is keeping secrets about the creatures living there. I did think the start where Lander was getting lost felt a bit…. Meandering. I didn’t really feel the intense emotions he was feeling while it was happening that would have made it more interesting. But once he meets Yban this novella becomes such a heartwarming and fluffy read that I really enjoyed. The slower softer pace of them getting to know each other was really well done and it has great discussions about Landers anxiety and Yban being demisexual (it’s always great when it’s stated explicitly in the text). I also loved how Lander was aware of his thoughts and anxiety in general. He knows how to look after himself, he was clever even in the midst of a stressful situation and he stood up for himself too.

Rep: m/m, anxiety and panic attacks, demisexual, trans female side character.

TW: bullying, transphobia

The Test by Sylvian Neuvel *****

This sounded like a really interesting novella. Idir is taking the British citizenship test when the questions turn much more real than he expected. It’s not really a new concept and it was very black mirror in the way it shone a light on choices and morality. I love things that analyse society and the choices we make in different situations. BUT, considering it did shine a light on so many issues, I really don’t think it did enough to get its message across. There were all kinds of bigoted language and scenarios that are kind of just assumed to be wrong as a given but never truly refuted. The novella simply wasn’t long enough to do what it tried. I did love the characters but I just feel like it didn’t go deep enough to cover any of the topics it tried to bring up which left it feeling shallow and underwhelming and rather like it was reciting research in parts (albeit interesting research!). I don’t mind ideas that aren’t original. No idea is original. But as much as it was a quick and interesting read, it wasn’t as well executed as I would have liked.

TW: can I just say all of them? There’s mentions of transphobia, sexism, racism, graphic violence,

Green Toes by Avery Flinders *****

This is such a brilliant contemporary fantasy short story. It’s about a bi woman who moves out of the small farming village she lived in having broken up with a boyfriend she loved to find herself and a place where the whole of her (queer identify included) fits. Also, she has magic gardening boots. I loved the fact this story brought to light the problem with the lack of queer spaces outside of the nightclub/drinking scene and how hard it is to find your people without it. I loved Terri, the nonbinary person she meets and falls for. But it’s not just about Terri and falling in love. It’s about found family, friends and finding a place to belong and feel whole. I also loved the set up Terri has living with her two favourite people. Screw social conventions. Be happy and be Queer.

Rep: MC is a bisexual woman, love interest is nonbinary. Other queer side characters.

Underdogs by Chris Bonnello***** (Review Copy)

This is a difficult book to review because the premise is a bunch of neurodivergent teens are the only free citizens and rebels left after the UK has been taken over by clones. Which sounds awesome and I loved that there were multiple autistic characters as well as other conditions (adhd, downs, anxiety, mutism) that would be the heroes and have adventures. which happened but I didn’t like where some of the rep went (killing off a certain character felt very problematic) and the phrasing used to discuss certain issues left me quite uncomfortable. I also didn’t feel the chemistry between Ewan and Charlie, who we’re told are best friends, until the latter part of the book and as someone whose favourite part of books is the relationship between characters I just felt like it lacked the emotion for me to connect with. Having said that it is an action packed adventure. And if you go in looking for a fun exciting read, especially in the second half, you won’t be disappointed.

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee *****

I’m going to be completely upfront here and say the only reason this isn’t a 5 star is because I REALLY don’t get on well with 3rd person present tense. It feels removed and like I’m reading stage direction rather than something I can really sink into. Having said that, the actual story and characters here are AWESOME and anyone who isn’t so ridiculously fussy about writing style should go read this book. Jess, the daughter of the towns local superheroes, is desperate to come into her own powers and not end up a disappointment. But when she’s offered an internship at the base of the local villain’s company she finds out there’s something very wrong going on with the hero villain system they’re forced to live in. I loved Jess, I loved how diverse all the characters were and how easily they all fit. I loved her growing relationship with the girl she has a crush on. I loved her family, her friends, the questions of morality about whether the good guys are really the good guys (throw all the books that do this to me. It’s my favourite trope). I even loved how predictable the twists were because they were meant to be and they just added to the fun of this book. It’s a super diverse superhero story where the superheroes aren’t as good as they seem.

Rep: Jess is a QPOC (specifically her and her family are Asian American and she’s bisexual which are Ownvoices) its f/f. One of her best friends (and the MC in the next book) is a trans guy.

Have you read any of these and if so, what did you think? And if not are you planning to?

Memo Pad: June Wrap Up

June left. A while ago. Life has been super hectic (I was going to say here but I don’t really have a here right now!) we packed up and moved out of the house I’ve lived in my whole life. (Bye London!). Moved in temporally with my aunt. Visited the place we are going to live on holiday for a week and are now back living with my aunt…. I’m tired. I mean my parents are tired and they’re not chronically ill so I’m…. Very?…tired.

All that to say. Yes. This June wrap up post is two weeks late! it’s been pretty difficult to think enough to actually write reviews but I have been managing to read (and not much else!).

In writing related news I sent my YA Scifi out for feedback at the end of May and planned to start writing my next wip over June and July while I was waiting and receiving feedback. But. Um. Well. It’s now been over a month since I’ve written/edited anything. Partially because I’m too exhausted to function as previously mentioned but also because my anxiety is ridiculously high and my brain won’t settle (which again is partially because of the move but partially because FEEDBACK = always anxiety inducing!). I have done a little final planning of the small things like naming places and minor characters. I’ve also figured out where the first chapter starts but that’s it. We’ll see if I get anything done by the July wrap up but I doubt it. My brain comes first after all.

BUT onto the books for June! I read 7 fiction books (2 of them novellas) which isn’t as much compared with what I’ve been reading in the last few months (although still amazing compared to before this year) but I’ve read a few nonfiction books which I don’t tend to review or count on this blog so I actually have read a lot. You’ll get the summary of my mini reviews and I also have two full reviews of my fav book of the month and a,,,, not so good reading experience.

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out!

AKA a mash up of the Mid Year Book freak out tag and a rundown of the best 5* reads of 2019 because what are rules?

I’ve had an amazing year of reading this year so far. The most books I have ever read in a year was 68 but I have already managed to read 58. In just half a year?!?! So I have easily beaten my reading challenge of 52 (I usually set it at a number I know I can reach because I don’t like pressure!). A lot of these books were amazing. So amazing in fact that I only managed to narrow it down to 12 best books for my super quick rundown (Someone save me when it comes to doing my end of year one!)

I’m going to jump straight into it. Partially because I don’t want to bore you when you could be reading about amazing books and partially because I am on holiday and it is sunny outside…. But stick around for the quickfire freakout tag questions at the end and do let me know what you think of these books in the comments!

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Mini Reviews: Contemporary Feels & a Scifi Sequel

This month has been such a good month for books. I haven’t read a book didn’t LOVE, although there were some mixed feelings in there (I’m looking at you Adam Silvera). I’ve also decided (at least temporarily – I’m terrible at sticking to things) that I’m going to start doing mini review posts instead of including the growing number of reviews in one very long Monthly Wrap up. Hopefully this way it will be easier to read!

I started doing mini reviews again recently because sometimes I love a book and really want to review them but just don’t have that much to say other than OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK. (Okay, i have a little more to say, I promise this post isn’t just that repeated 5 times!)

But enough rambling, I’m going to dive right into the mini reviews:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas *****

This has been on my TBR for ages but I finally got to it and it’s such a brilliant book about racism and police brutality. Starr is a girl caught between her posh white private school and her life at home. When her friend gets shot and killed by police she has to figure out who she is to make her voice heard. There are so many amazing characters, including everybody in Starr’s family and their complicated feelings about who they are and what they want. I loved watching how every single one of them grew and how they fitted together. And watching Starr struggle to fit the two parts of herself and her life together was emotional. It was so well done. This book covers such an important topic but at the same time it’s so character driven and it only makes it that much more powerful knowing people are going through this everyday. Obvious trigger warnings here for racism, police brutality, but also drug and physical abuse

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn *****

This is my absolute favourite kind of YA. Full of twisty, horrible secrets and mixed up timelines with slowly unfolding memories. Win fights with himself, his memories and reality as he tries to come to terms with what’s happened in his life. Now he’s let people in for the first time at his private school he has to finally confront it. This book is split over two time lines, the present as he deals with it and the past of how he got to be like he is. I loved the way we learnt more and more. Honestly as soon as I finished I wanted to go back and reread it to pick up on all the hints. It’s also got therapy positive themes which is so important. It reminded me in tone of We Were Liars which is another favourite of mine with an unreliable narrator. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, suicide and eating disorders.

History is all you Left Me by Adam Silvera *****

This book is about two boys grieving the death of the same boy they loved and all the conflicting feelings of them trying to recover together. Right from the start you need to know this book is heartbreaking. I recommend you try to read this in one sitting if possible because if you have to put the book down in the the first half you will be too heartbroken to function. I say this from experience. It’s a book about grief and healing so the end is more positive and hopeful for everyone which was cathartic and beautiful to see but this book still hurt me enough that I have to be honest and say even though it’s a five star read I actually wish I hadn’t read it. My heart is not strong enough! But for those of you who like getting your heart broken into tiny pieces you’ll love this book. I loved the characters, their families and the fact the MC has OCD. It’s always great to see more mental health rep in books.

Avi Cantor has Six Months to Live by Sacha Lamb *****

This short story was SO good. I wish it was longer but only because I loved the characters so much that I wanted to spend time with them not because it wasn’t the right length/felt rushed like some short stories do. I could easily have enjoyed reading a full novel of these two characters but the brief writing style worked and I loved the slightly Supernatural tint to the story. The MC is a trans guy (written by an ownvoices author) who is being bullied at school when he finds a message with his name (the one he hasn’t told anyone yet) scrawled on the bathroom mirror. There are multiple trans characters (the boy he falls in love with is also trans) and just lots of diversity in general (poc characters, MC is Jewish and possible background autistic sister). I recommend it to anyone looking for a heartfelt short story but trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts.

Ashore (Staying Afloat #2) by Isabelle Adler***** (free review copy)

A super strong scifi adventure sequel to the Adrift novella. It stays with the single pov of the captain but I loved that we got more of the crew which is the only thing I felt was missing from the previous novella. One of the things I loved most about Adrift was even though it was a space adventure set around the crew of a spaceship it felt self contained and tense, this book continues that theme. The crew are stuck in a new, completely different place with a new and completely different challenge. Full of pod racing, space station crime bosses, plenty of fighting for their lives, but also plenty of intense character moments as Matt struggles to keep his crew safe and whole while not falling back into his alcohol addiction. It’s a short, easy to read adult scifi that keeps the vastness of space contained to a small but no less awesome story. Also it’s queer…

I can already tell trying to pick my favourite book of the month is going to be HARD!

I would love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought or if you are planning to read them! If you have any recs for Charm and Strange/We Were Liars type contemporary please comment and tell me!

Bloglovin / Twitter Goodreads

Memo Pad: April Wrap-up

I know I keep saying that this ridiculous run I’m on with my reading challenge is going to end soon but this month has been another scarily awesome month for books. Not only did I read the eight books I’ve been averaging a month so far this year but I actually ended up reading….13? Granted not all of them were novels but wow.

One of the things that definitely bumped that number up was taking part in the awesome A-spec April readathon in the first two weeks of the month. It was all about reading books with asexual and aromantic characters and there are so many amazing books that even a mood reader like me had plenty to pick from. I did a wrap up post with all my reviews from it here. But I’ll also list them with my ratings below.

April has also been Autism Acceptance Month. Two of the books I read for the A-spec readathon had autistic characters but I also read Testing Pandora which is a prequel to one of my all time favourite books that has an autistic MC. I also read two non fiction books about autism. I don’t normally mention non fiction books on the blog but as it’s the month for it I’ll review them below.

Away from reading…. We’ve accepted an offer on the house! And everyone’s fingers are crossed that it goes through okay. Right now we’re waiting for everything to get sorted.

Writing wise, I finished editing my short story and I’ve managed to get two thirds the way through my YA Scifi novel. It’s been hard going the last couple of weeks. Lots of doubts and meltdowns about it but I’m still on plan to have this edit done before my birthday in June.

Onto the books for this month!

Read: 13 (6 novels, 1 novella, 4 short stories, & 2 non-fiction books)

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Memo Pad: March Wrap Up

I’m late with my monthly wrap up. Oops. It’s April already. Luckily I am currently still a European citizen so things could have gone worse (although there’s still time!). I read a lot of books in March which is the main reason this post is late. While I haven’t found it difficult to fit reading time in between my editing time, I have found it difficult to find time to write the reviews…. Or, you know, I’m just being lazy. I should really write them as soon as I finish a book but that almost never happens!

Anyway. Other goings on that happened in March include going back to Lanzarote to sort out some minor paperwork and steal some of the sunshine (and the ice cream.yuummmm.) but we still haven’t sold our house. Sigh.

I’ve also managed to edit one third of my #ExcitingSpaceWIP so far. I’m hoping by the end of April I’ll be able to tell you all I’m two thirds through! We’ll have to see.

Next month I will also be taking part in the Aspec April readathon happening over the first two weeks. Which is a readathon focusing on books with asexual and aromantic characters in them. I’ll hopefully be posting a separate wrap up for that at the end of the two weeks. April is also Autism acceptance month so I’m planning on rounding out the month with a couple of autistic books but again we’ll see. I’m the epitome of a mood reader so this much planning may be my downfall!

I probably won’t be posting anything for autism acceptance month even though it’s my first year of being diagnosed. I wouldn’t know what to write! But if anyone has any questions about Autism or my experiences I’m happy to answer them, just leave a comment below.

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