The BW Mid Year Tag

Last year, Chantel and I created this tag! And, you know, since it’s halfway through the year, I’m bringing it back.


1. Where are you on your Goodreads challenge? Ahead or behind?

I’m ahead! I’ve actually bumped it up twice, so it went from 200 to 250 and now to 300. I’m having a good reading year tbh.

2. Have you really been reading your Top Ten books of the year?

Yes!

I only have two books left, actually. The Hindus and the Bible. I’m going to read the former in July and I’ve been reading the latter since December.

3. Are you going to change some of your Top Tens halfway through?

Nope! Not this year. I’ve chosen pretty well this time around tbh.

4. What are your top five books so far this year?

Lemme think about it. I have to look at my Google sheet for it.

  1. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
  2. A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
  3. The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
  4. The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
  5. The Wicked King by Holly Black

5. Any new releases you’re excited for?

Technically, I answered this on Tuesday! But, one not listed is The Madness Blooms by Mackenzi Lee. I have an ARC of this and I’m excited since I’ll be an ownvoices reviewer. I think she handled the backlash over the cover very well and, tbh, I wasn’t bothered by it at all in the first place. But, hey. I’m still excited and I’m very glad that I requested it!

6. Favorite character of a new (either released this year or new to you) book this year?

Hmmm. Good question. I really loved Graça from The Air You Breathe. Her character was just fantastic. Like, damn. I could really get behind her. But, I also love Cardan’s development in The Wicked King.

7. What’s a book you regret not having read so far this year?

Hm. I don’t know! I honestly can’t think of any at the moment. I feel like I’ve been doing really well at reading outside of my comfort zone and expanding my reading tastes.

8. What are your favorite TV shows/movies you’ve watched this year?

Killing Eve by far!!

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If you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon, you’re so missing out. I was really worried that the second season wouldn’t live up to the amazingness that was the first season but I shouldn’t have worried. It was more insane and funnier than the first. And the characters??? Eve and Villanelle are just amazing.

Also, that finale fucked me up (and not just because I was drinking a very strong gin and tonic AND a glass of wine… then I needed another glass of wine after the ending). Chantel and I literally talked on the phone for two hours after watching that finale.

9. What do you really want to watch before the year is out?

Chantel will not shut-up about Gentleman Jack. She did a post about it, too! It’s historical fiction about real queer women in Victorian times. I mean, yo. That sounds boss.

10. What’s one song you’ve become obsessed with?

I’ve never heard of Billie Eilish before this year but I love this song. Any of her other songs? Nah. Just this one.

One, this song is honestly really good and takes me back to my childhood. Two, the music video is hilarious.

11. What are your favorite songs/albums so far?

Well, the above two songs for sure. But I also loved some other new releases from this year!

Tbh, this song made me start crying when I first heard it after my sister passed, but it’s a beautiful song. I love his voice and the lyrics.

 


I tag:

Virginia | Melanie | Kristin | Fiction No Chaser | Hâf

Book review – The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

Caidyn's review (1)

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

Thanks to Netgalley and Edelweiss for an ARC!!

5/5

CW: drug use, addiction, rape, cannibalism (briefly implied), PTSD, grief and violence

  1. The Poppy War – 5/5

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Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. The above gif is, honestly, my end reaction at the last few chapters because boy did this fuck me up.

So, welcome to my incoherent review that will be spoiler-y for the first book!

The book picks up pretty soon after the end of The Poppy War. Rin has destroyed everything and is now basically wanted by everyone. She won the war, but her win came at a huge cost for everyone. That’s what she’s learning now.

The book’s plot was fucking insane. If I thought the first one had intrigue, this one was fucking madness. We got multiple people trying to pull Rin to their side so they can use her powers to swing the war in their favor. The biggest one is the Dragon Warlord, Nezha’s father, who she throws her lot in with once she realizes there’s really nothing that she can do. Except, really, Rin doesn’t like to be controlled in the least.

And then there’s Rin over there trying to figure out what she wants while she’s dealing with the grief of losing Altan. Now she’s the last of the Speerlies and has to put that burden on her, along with all that she’s done and seen. Which is a lot because Rin has gone down a long path, then there’s even more in this book.

What I really loved about this book was how the characters grew and allegiances were cemented. It was beautiful to read that because it was so lovely to see the survivors band together even if they don’t really like each other very much still.

Then, there’s the world. It expands so much in this book! You get to see more of Nikan and the various people who live in it, getting along and fighting as you can expect. Plus, you get to see new religions and people, like the Hesperians (who are basically the Europeans trying to colonize China and push Christianity as the one and true religion). You also get to see more and new gods in the pantheon in action as the walls are broken down.

I mean, this book was just so fucking fantastic on so many levels.

One thing that killed me was the fact that the ARC doesn’t have the character list completed. There’s a space for it, but it’s not done yet so I didn’t have that helping me out. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible with names in books. Especially epic fantasy. I kept getting characters lost since so much happens in this book and you’re introduced to so many new people in the course of the book. So, be prepared for that! This is epic fantasy at its finest. And, unlike GRRM or Brandon Sanderson, there’s an end in sight since this is only a trilogy.

I just loved this book so much and I feel so lucky that I got an ARC of it. It’s been on my must have list since I finished the first book and now I’m just mostly dead waiting for the final book to finish me off.


Talk to me!

Have you read this yet?
Are you dying for it?
What recent epic fantasy do you love?

Top Ten Tuesday – Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

As you know, I don’t keep track of new releases like some people do. All these books are ones that I’ve preordered and/or gotten ARCs of.


The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)

My review for this will be posting tomorrow, so keep your eye out for that! After reading this, still can’t wait to get my hands on it. It was so good and there was so much intrigue in this book. Cannot wait until the third one!

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch #2)

Not only is this a local author for me, I also really enjoyed Sea Witch! I can’t wait to see where the next book goes and I’m so excited to get this preorder in the mail.

Dispel Illusion (Impossible Times, #3)

I haven’t been reviewing this series on the blog — I don’t have much to say about them even though they’re enjoyable — so it hasn’t been featured as much. Still, I’m really enjoying how he’s pushed out a whole series in one year! Can’t wait to see the ending.

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

I know this book has a lot of controversy around it. However, I’m still really looking forward to it and I’m glad that Zhao took a step back, edited, and then is coming out with it. I have this one preordered!

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3)

If y’all have been following this blog long enough, you’ll know how much I loved this series. The Wicked King left me absolutely breathless. This finale will probably kill me, but I’ll love the process of dying.

The Starless Sea

I’m a huge fan of Morgenstern so I’m just damned excited that she’s finally coming out with a new book! I have this one preordered through Waterstone so I get their exclusive edition.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sky in the Deep, but I’m still excited about this book. I have an ARC of it, so after I reread the first book (even though this isn’t a traditional sequel) I’m going to jump into this one!

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3)

This is another ARC that I have! No clue how I swung it, but I did! I wasn’t in love with Nevernight but Godsgrave was a big step up so I’m excited to see how the story concludes. Especially with that cliffhanger!

Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House, #1)

Everyone keeps talking about this book! I’m so excited for it. I have an ARC of it and I honestly can’t wait to see how amazing it is.

Crier's War (Crier's War, #1)

Last book. Chantel told me about this one and I looked into it. Sounds very good! I was able to get an ARC so I’m planning on reading this one ASAP because I can’t wait for more f/f fantasy


Talk to me!
Are we anticipating any of the same books?
What books are you really dying to read?

Book review – If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Caidyn's review (1)

If We Were Villains

4/5

CW: murder, drug use, alcohol use, overdose, and cheating


For most of the book, I hovered around 3-3.5 stars. I really swore that it was going to be another The Secret History for me. Maybe not as pretentious, but still a group of people reeling from a murder that I didn’t care about.

However, Rio changed that. I actually liked the characters in this, even if I still got annoyed with them at times. The plot is pretty basic, as it was with The Secret History: Group of arty friends are doing a Shakespeare play. They all have their typecast roles. One starts going a little mad. Someone murders him. Except, who did it?

And then we have to pick up the pieces as they reform their group and have to go without this certain one.

I never got all of the names down of the characters. Even though I was very close to the end of the book, I still had to look up to make sure I was right. There’s Richard (the tyrant), Alexander (the villain), James (the hero), Meredith (the temptress), Wren (whatever the hell stereotype she was supposed to be), Filippa (gets small parts), and Oliver (the MC and the other one who gets small parts). Even while I was typing that up, I had to Google it and pull up the wiki for this book because I knew I was going to forget people. And I did! I got to four characters and blanked.

So, the characters, while they had depth, were just too many for me to juggle around. I kept mixing them up and it felt like too large a cast of characters for the story.

And, the story. All of the characters are fourth-year students who only do Shakespeare as actors. They’re doing Julius Caesar as their fall/winter play. And then things go terribly wrong for them. One night, someone in the group kills another.

The book starts off with Oliver being released from jail for a crime that’s not specified. He’s finally talking to the detective who worked on the murder to tell him what really happened that night and the rest of the story.

Personally, I thought it was a bit dull, but I was still pulled to read it. I loved the way it was told. Parts of it was like it was a play, like just having a list of the characters saying their lines rather than making it prose the whole time. It worked for the story, along with constantly quoting Shakespeare. Sure, it was a bit pretentious, but I love Shakespeare.

The murder took forever and it took years to get through it, but I found the ending good and poignant. I also enjoyed who the murderer was. So, in the end, it was a wash for me. I thought it was very good, but I don’t know if I loved it. I think that this is going to be one of those books I’ll appreciate more on a reread.


Talk to me!
Have you read this?
What did you think?

Book review – Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Caidyn's review (1)

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

4/5

CW: death of loved ones, mass killings, and grief


I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon for this book after waiting many years to start reading it. That’s mainly because I wanted the whole series out, but also because I’m really good at procrastinating at popular books.

As I said, I really enjoyed it. I loved the world that it was about. Some futuristic world where all diseases have been cured and you can reset your clock so you’re younger when you hit a certain point. So, basically, you don’t have to die. Everyone can live forever. And that’s where the scythes come in. They kill people — or glean the population — to make sure that the world doesn’t become overpopulated. If your family member is killed, you’re granted immunity from gleaning for a year.

The story follows Citra and Rowan. Both are teenagers who, in their own way, become scythes in training. Neither of them exactly want to be scythes, but they’re taken on as apprentices to the same person. Until something happens and they’re taken in by two very, very different people.

Now, I enjoyed the characters. They were so interesting and I loved watching their development over the course of the book. Both went on such different paths and developed so differently. I also appreciated that there was no romance in this! Or, not really any romance. That was so refreshing because I would have died if there was romance in this damn thing.

That being said, I had some issues. I did space out while reading a bit because it slowed down so much. Spaced out to the point that I missed a major plot point that changed the trajectory of the whole book. I went with the change and filled in the blanks as I went. It wasn’t detrimental to my reading experience that I missed it, but still kinda annoying that something important was hidden in the drudge.

I also never got super attached to the characters. I liked them, but I wasn’t going to die if anything horrible happened to them. I can’t wait until the next book to see what happens/how I’ll get attached.

Lastly, the ending. I enjoyed it and I like the intrigue that the book brought up — what is the Thunderhead? what will happen with the scythes and the changes that are going on there? — but, honestly, this could have been a stand-alone book. It was a very good book and I wasn’t annoyed by it being a series like with Spin the Dawn, but I’m not sure if it needed a three book series.

Still, we’ll see what I think of the sequel soon enough!


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
Did you think this needs to be a series?

Book review – Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

Caidyn's review (1)

Mary Queen of Scots

4/5


I did a buddy read with the ever lovely Jaynie, who I read Elizabeth I with earlier this year!

And, this was really good. At times, it was pretty dull because it felt bogged down by details I didn’t need to know — names, family history, etc. — but most of the time it was interesting. I think it picked up speed after her second marriage to Darnley because that was when everything kind of went downhill for her.

One thing that came up when Jaynie and I discussed the book was Mary’s childhood and how, in a way, it was a disadvantage to her. She had a relatively stable childhood in France, removed from the people she would eventually govern. Scheming wasn’t her forte, although she did it throughout her life. She led with her heart and was an action person rather than hanging back to see how things played out. She didn’t exactly keep herself out of plotting or find a way to be able to deny it.

Very different than Elizabeth, her rival. Elizabeth had a very unstable childhood. She knew the players at the court in and out. She always found a way to keep her hands off of scheming so she didn’t get in trouble for it. And when she did get caught, she was able to get out of it eventually.

It’s hard not to compare the two women. Queens around the same time, same dynasty and family ties, both very ambitious. Yet, they were very different people and Mary’s upbringing was a deficit to her. She was a foreign queen in the end. Very different than the people she was meant to govern. She was basically French and she had a different religion than most of the people and she seemed to think more of her own passions than of what something would do to the people.

Their lasting image is also very different. Elizabeth is seen as very apt and smart while, in most of what I’ve read, Mary comes off looking like an idiot. I’ve read a fiction book about her and she really was an idiot. Yet, the movie that came out last year, which has the same name as this book (different source material, though — they used John Guy’s book, which I also plan on reading) made her look like a genius.

Fraser definitely came down in the middle of both those extremes. I loved how balanced the biography was. She showed Mary’s flaws and strengths, most of which go hand in hand. Fraser definitely knew her stuff about Mary. She cared about her subject but was as unbiased as she could be on the topic. In short, I really enjoyed this biography. It was good and an enjoyable read.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What makes a biography balanced for you?

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

IT WORKS LIKE THIS:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)

I think this was back when I thought Charles Todd was a good author. Now? Nah.

Verdict: GO!


Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1)

I’d rather read about actual body farms and the things they’re finding.

Verdict: GO!


The Magician

Doesn’t sound that interesting tbh.

Verdict: GO!


Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery

I love Eric Ives. He did an amazing biography of Anne Boleyn so I know that I’ll be checking this book out at some point.

Verdict: Keep


The Children Act

This sounds like McEwan before he got really weird with his last couple of books.

Verdict: Keep


A Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud & Sabina Spielrein

I’ve tried to read this multiple times and I just don’t think that it’s going to happen.

Verdict: GO!


What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)

This still sounds absolutely amazing tbh.

Verdict: Keep


A Burnable Book (John Gower, #1)

Historical fiction written by a historian???? Sign me tf up.

Verdict: Keep


Consumption

I don’t know? It doesn’t look like I can get it anywhere but I’m still mildly interested in it.

Verdict: GO! (to my maybe shelf)


Fateful

Okay so some kind of paranormal romance set on the Titanic? Nah, man.

Verdict: GO!


Last TBR: 1580

Books kept: 4

Books removed: 6

Current TBR: 1560

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Let’s just keep it going down!


Talk to me!
Have you read any of these?
Should I have kept any I removed or vice versa?

30 Days of Pride – Day 13

We are nearly halfway through Pride month and it is going by too fast for my liking! Once again, I’m recommending a great YA book that I absolutely loved. In fact, it’s a crime I haven’t read any more books by Ashley Herring Blake. I will go punish myself accordingly.

how to make a wish cover

My Review!

I fucking loved this book. It’s one of those books that took me far too long to read but once I did, I loved it. I bought it because I loved it so much. The story of Grace and Eva is so beautiful and I absolutely loved reading them fall for each other. Grace’s relationship with her mom was difficult to read but still sticks with me to this day.

If you haven’t read this book, please do. It’s worth your time.

I’m going out of town!

Image result for wave gif
This is an accurate depiction of my awkwardness.

As you can tell from the title, I’m going out of town this month. (Which I, for one, am super excited about because I desperately need a little bit of a break from life!)

But, even more exciting, is my destination.

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time. It’s a wonder I was able to not tell people where I’m going tbh since I can be bad at keeping secrets that aren’t life/death or anything else.

I’m going to… PORTLAND!!!!!

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Probably Chantel and I at some point.

Yes! I’ve had this trip scheduled since October. Chantel’s birthday was two days ago and I’m, basically, her present. Not like that.

When this posts, I’ll be in the midst of traveling up there! I’ll check in here a few times a day, but I’ll be offline for the most part until the 18th.

Want to see what we’re getting up to? You should go check out our Instagram! I’m planning on posting on our story since this weekend is Pride and my first time in Portland.

 

30 Days of Pride – Day 12

Okay, it’s a crime that I haven’t talked about this already. However, nobody will be shocked that I’m talking about it since I haven’t shut up about it since I read it. I’m talking about the epic love story that put me in a year-long slump.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

My review!

This book had a huge impact on me. I hesitate to say it changed my life, but I’m a fan of hyperbole so fuck it! It changed my life. I absolutely love this book and it continued to surprise me. From the hetero-baiting title to the love story between two women over decades, add in a Hollywood setting and an aging star telling the truth of her life and you have a goddamn masterpiece. Why hasn’t anyone brought this book to the screen yet?!

I guarantee if the love that was put into this book was put into a mini-series, then I would be the happiest person in the world. This book is absolutely perfect and I’m terrified to read it again because I don’t want to be let down and because the pain was so strong. It hurt more than any other book I’ve read before. Not only did I cry but I felt the anger and pain.

I honestly don’t know if a book will ever come close to how I felt about Evelyn Hugo and I’m okay with that. I think I’m a better person for having read this book.

Have I oversold it?

Maybe.

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