I feel like expressing awe at how fast 2021 is going is the way I could start every single wrap up this year. But truly, it’s going so fast! We are practically in fall now, I see pumpkin-related things popping up everywhere now as well as fall colors in decor at the stores.
Work was quite busy this month as well but it did get a bit better in terms of stress levels. I think things will stay busy for the rest of the year but nothing I can’t handle! There are cool projects coming up so that will also be something I’ll be looking forward to.
In terms of books I managed to finish reading 8 books!
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: This was a super powerful and amazing book. Stevenson writes about his experiences working as a lawyer for people who have been sentenced to serve life in prison or given capital punishment. We follow the lives of people who were wrongly convicted as well as those who were given awfully harsh punishments that were not proportional to the crime they committed. Overall, amazing, highly recommend.
A Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose: I listened to this audiobook on a whim and it was fine. This is a thriller that deals with a man who is accused of murdering his mistress and ends up being represented by his wife who is a fairly famous defense attorney. Reading this right after Just Mercy was not what I had planned and it was unfortunate for this book. I couldn’t have much sympathy for the characters even though I’ll admit that I couldn’t stop listening to see what twists and turns would happen next.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: Changing gears a bit I read this young adult fantasy book, a sequel to Children of Blood and Bone. It was cool being back in this magical world based on African mythology and seeing how the magic system evolved. I was a bit disappointed in the characters’ decisions and motivations but it was a fun read nonetheless.
An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn: Next I hopped over to a romance, again continuing the Bridgerton series! This time we followed Benedict’s story in a sort of Cinderella inspired twist. I can’t say that this was my favorite so far, it felt a bit meh but what saved it for me was all the interactions with the rest of the Bridgerton family. That’s where the real love was and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Hunger by Roxane Gay: This book was the pick for one of my book clubs and I actually listened to the audiobook. This was narrated by Roxane Gay herself and it was so powerful and emotionally difficult to hear. However, it is a very valuable perspective about living as a black fat woman in the United States. Gay tells the story of her life but also gives us her perspective on what society and popular media have contributed to how we view fat bodies. Highly recommend it!
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki: I’ve been dipping my toe into learning more about meditation for the past couple of years and this book really helped me learn a lot about a way to approach this education without letting my desire to learn cloud the actual meditation (if that makes any sense.) I’ll definitely be reading a couple of these talks from time to time as I continue my journey into meditation.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto: This book was so much fun! Murder, weddings, aunties, an ex! There was a lot going on in this book and it was just a riot reading about all the shenanigans that the characters got into. If you’re looking for a fun light read, this is the one!
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I finally finished it! This collection of comics is only Volume 1 of 3 and I loved it! There were for sure some sections that were difficult to read, either because they were super violent or psychologically intense, but overall it was all very immersive. I am in awe at how Gaiman constructs his stories and I can’t wait to read Vol 2.
There was also technically the book about aliens…. but it was just not good at all so I didn’t even dedicate a review to it because I did not deem it worth that. So I guess technically I read nine books but I’d just as soon forget I read that last one XD. Other than that, it was a great reading month! Next month is going to be so fun, I already have my TBR ready so look out for that coming up soon.
How did your August go? Are you ready for fall/winter?
The Sandman comic series was created by Neil Gaiman in the 80s and 90s. I have so far loved just about everything that Neil Gaiman has written, from his novels, short stories, children’s books, and his collaborations with other authors and artists. I find his humor and craft of storytelling so captivating and just exactly my cup of tea. This comic series follows Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams. Morpheus is the guardian of the land of dreams, that place where we all go when we go to sleep.
Many years ago I started reading the Sandman comics on an iPad I owned at the time. It was a bit difficult to read it in that format because it was each individual comic that you opened up and scrolled through. Then, when I closed it and had to remember which file was next I’d always get mixed up and would be reading in a strange order that ended up being confusing. That’s when I decided that needed to own the comics in some physical form in order to fully enjoy them. And so, when I found the existence of the Sandman Omnibus I jumped at the chance to buy it…. until I saw the price T_T. I did not have a full time job back then so $150 for a book was quite steep for me. But when I got a full time job and there was a sale, I finally acquired the first volume!
I think I had the collection on my shelves for about 2 or 3 years before I actually started reading it this year. And that’s okay! I’m glad I waited because I think there are some parts of this series that I might not have been prepared to read two or three years ago.
Morpheus is such an interesting character. He is an Endless being who has the responsibility of taking care of people’s dreams. It might seem like an aspect of life that does not matter much; however, throughout the comics we learn that dreams really can have a big influence in our lives. If we have peaceful and inspiring dreams we can wake up and tackle the day much differently than if we had nightmares or if we never had dreams at all.
Take a look at Morpheus, isn’t he majestic? There’s a definite sense of drama and flare and power all around him. Love it!
Another character who is super interesting is Death, Morpheus’ older sister. She is a super sensible character who gives advice to Morpheus about decisions that he makes that might not have been the most fair or logical. She also is a caretaker of sorts to all the siblings (Dream, Destiny, Desire, Destruction, Despair, and Desire) since she seems to be the one who tends to try to keep the peace between all of them. We don’t see too much of the other siblings until the very end of this volume but I’m very interested to learn more about them and how they all interact with each other.
I also love her style, she’s very fashionable and the way she interacts with humans is also very compassionate and wonderful.
This might seem obvious but I also really enjoyed the art in these comics. There were so many creative ways that the panels are laid out. For example, here you can see how someone is falling asleep and the panels start turning until you are reading about what’s happening in the land of dreams.
As you can see above there are also some beautiful spreads showing the different lands featured in these comics. The artists are so good and I did find myself actually having dreams in these lands! Some of my dreams were definitely unsettling while others were fantastic and just full of great feelings.
Overall, this collection of comics is excellent. I loved all the stories that featured Morpheus. There were a couple of stories that were very difficult to read, some dealing with suicide, murder, abuse (of all kinds), and the endings for these were sometimes utterly heartbreaking. My favorite bits were the comics that dealt with historical figures and major historical events. I loved how Morpheus or Death would appear and interact with humans in these stories, which worked as a bit of background for why the main characters have made certain decisions.
I’d highly recommend this comic series if you are at all interested in mythology, history, dreams, and just awesome art and storytelling.
Hello August! July was a bit of an intense month for me, you can read about it in my July Wrap Up, and I finished reading 5 books. So, what does August have in store for me?
Let’s look first at the books I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: My friend and I are making good progress on The Stand. We are currently about half way through the book and I love how all the characters are starting to come together while there’s still a mystery of what will happen next.
The Sandman Omnibus Vol I by Neil Gaiman: I’m about half way through this collection of comics as well! I’ve loved how the mythology is weaving through all the different characters while moving along Morpheus’ storyline.
Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel García Márquez: This book has been a bit slow for me. Each story so far is one that I need to take my time with and pay a bit more attention than most books. That’s not to say that I’m not liking it but I am definitely taking my time with each story.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: I barely started this book so I’m about 50 pages into it. I’m really enjoying jumping back into the world of the Orisha so I’m sure I’ll breeze through this book after I’m done with Just Mercy.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I am almost done with this book! It’s been a hard book to read because of the subject matter: people on death row, specifically people who do not deserve to be there because they are innocent or because the punishment is not on par with the crime. I love that it is opening my eyes to issues that I never imagined were issues so I’ll be researching more about it all beyond this book.
Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki: This was not in my plans for July but due to the stress of the month I thought that it was appropriate to read a bit about meditation and how to take that into my every day life. I love this book so far because it is something that I can incorporate easily without actually needing to sit for 20 mins with my eyes closed.
And now, let’s take a look at the books I’ll be adding to my TBR for August:
An Offer From A Gentleman by Julia Quinn: I’m continuing my journey of reading the Bridgerton series so I’m looking forward to reading about Benedict and his quest of finding love.
Emma by Jane Austen: This was the book chosen via my Want To Read List Cleanup #2. I’ve never read a Jane Austen book so this will be really interesting. I don’t actually know much about what the book is about but that’s fine by me!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve heard a lot about this series and, seeing the teasers for the show, I’ve been very interested in reading it. It’s a looooong one so we’ll see how long it takes for me to read it.
Hunger by Roxane Gay: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of August. This book is about body image, Gay’s relationship with food, and self care. This one might be a bit of a hard book to read so I’ll likely read it in sections throughout the month.
The Allies of Humanity by Marshall Vian Summers: This is the new book pick for the book club with my friends and well, not my first choice so this will be interesting. Summers writes about aliens and their interactions with the people of Earth. Apparently it is non-fiction…!?
Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto: This is the book that will come in the Feminist Book Club box for August. This book looks like a lot of fun: murder and romance, what’s not to like?
I am quite glad that I’ll get to read more romance books in August. I’m hoping that this month is a bit less stressful than last month and that I’ll be able to dive into my books without much of a care in the world.
So in June I read 6 books, among them a memoir, an essay collection, YA, and even some comics! What will July have in store for me?
So I took a look at my Goodreads reading challenge, which I had already increased from 12 to 30 back in March, and now that my reading pace has picked up I will increase it to 50 since I’m already at 25 books!
I’m not forcing myself to finish books before the end of the month or waiting until the next month to start others that were not listed in my previous TBR. Reading as the mood strikes, following the flow of my reading has been really working for me. The only ones that I do have a set schedule for are the ones that I’m buddy reading or with the two (and a half) book clubs I’m in.
Let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still reading this! hahaha It will be in these posts for the foreseeable future. As I previously mentioned, this book is about a flu pandemic, people are dying left and right and something supernatural is starting to happen now. There is the theme of dreaming now in the novel, which is super interesting, I’m on page 345.
Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: We are still reading about the various queens in this sort of gossipy style that Morató has (which I’m not a fan of…) So far the stories of each empress/queen have varied in writing quality so it’s a hit or miss. Right now I’m on page 306, reading about Eugénie de Montijo who is super interesting. I think that this one is my favorite story so far (even if it’s still TMZ-style).
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and I just started it a few days ago but I’m so into it! Now this is full of gossip, satire, and so so fun! I expect to be done with this one pretty soon.
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I juuuust started this last week and, while it is a comic collection, it is giant! I am on page 149 and I love the art style. I will share some of my favorite pages in my review once I finish it.
Then there are the books I’m planning on starting this month and reading in between the book club books:
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Continuing my journey through the Bridgerton series I’ll be reading Anthony’s story next!
Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The complete short story collection that was selected as the book to read from my Want To Read list cleanup post last month. I’m excited about diving into these short stories! I might or might not finish these within the month, we’ll see how it goes.
Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: This was the pick of the month for the Feminist Book Club, it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s not pictured above. This is the half a book club I mentioned above since, while I do try to get to the book of the month each time I’m not pushing myself to finish it before the Q&A with the author as much since I normally can’t make the live chats. I’m excited about this book because it is a combination of poetry and prose about fairy tales. I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings so I’m looking forward to reading this book.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of July. I’ve previously read The Kite Runner and I really loved that book so I hope that this one is also as great! This book focuses on a story told over two generations about characters in Afghanistan. There’s friendship, heartbreak, and rich history throughout this book so it’s bound to be a great read for the book club.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: The second installment in the Legacy of Orïsha series has been on my bookshelves unread for far too long! In the first book, Children of Blood and Bone, we follow Zelie as she goes on a quest to return magic to people who have had their magic taken away. I really enjoyed the first book so I’m hoping that the second book lives up to my expectations.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I wanted to add a non-fiction book to July and Just Mercy was just calling my name. This book is a memoir about Stevenson’s journey as he works on one of his first cases as a lawyer where Walter McMillan is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It promises to be a very compelling and emotional read, especially following The New Jim Crow, which I read in June. There is also a movie that came out in 2019 so I will probably watch that after I read the book.
Overall, July promises to be a fun month full of great reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to read outside a bit (not the Sandman Omnibus of course XD) and catch some sun this summer. Maybe I’ll even venture a trip to the park or the beach just for reading, as long as it’s not too hot here in SoCal. What are you reading in July? Have you read any of the books in my reading plans? If so, what did you think?
June is here! We are almost half way through the year and it seems to me like yesterday was barely March? Anyways… last month I read 6 books! This coming month I am not sure how many I will actually finish but here are the ones I’m currently working on:
The Stand by Stephen King: This book is about a pandemic… (I know, I know). It centers a couple of different characters who live around the United States and it’s about they try to survive. As with most Stephen King books there is a supernatural aspect to it but we haven’t gotten to that part yet. I’m reading this as a buddy read with a friend from high school. It’s more than 1000 pages long (as are most of King’s books) and we are going slow, about 200 pages a month. We are currently reading to page 253 and I’m on page 150. So far I’m really enjoying the characters that King has chosen to follow although I’m left wondering ….where are all the people of color?!
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: I’m reading this book for a book club with fellow Questbridge Alumni. This book is a non-fiction work that describes how the current mass incarceration system came about. Why are there so many black men targeted for arrests? What does the War on Drugs have to do with it? Is the system racist? Yes! So then, why can’t it just be changed? All these questions are answered throughout the book with very thorough explanations and evidence. I’m on page 137 of 329 and I’ve already learned a lot. This is one that I’m annotating left and right (so much so that I have finished one of my highlighters!). There’s a lot to learn so if anything, this is just the start of my own education. I will finish this by the end of June since that’s when we have our monthly meeting.
Disability Visibility by Alice Wong: I got this non-fiction book as part of the Feminist Book Club subscription box! It’s a great subscription box if you’re interested in social justice and intersectional feminism. Anyways, the book is a collection of essays by disabled people from all aspects of life. There are lawyers, artists, mothers, students, activists, etc. This book is very eye opening and has given me a lot to think about, in terms of language, accessibility, and just stereotypes and biases I have about disabled people. I’m on page 164 of 309 and I’ve been stopping and learning more about the people in the book as well as checking my own responses to each story. Again, a lot to learn here! I will also finish this book this month because the next book comes next week!
Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: I’m reading this book as part of a book club with my friends from Mexico (though we have people tuning in from Canada, Texas, and various parts of Mexico City). This book is in Spanish and it tells the stories of various royalty figures in history, including Empress Sisi, Mary Antoinette, Queen Victoria, etc. All of these women had difficult lives trying to fit into the roles that they were put into (very few chose to become Queen of X place). So far we have read about Empress Sisi and I was not impressed with the writing. It reads more like a TMZ article than a serious biography so I’m not exactly trusting of the author based on that. So far I’m on page 120, learning about Mary Antoinette’s childhood, better than Sisi’s chapters so far! Since we read about 150 pages per month, you’ll keep hearing about this one for a while yet.
So those are the books I’m currently reading slow and steady, two will be finished way past the month of June. There are more books I want to read as well, these are lighter reads that I think I can read a bit more quickly:
Eternals by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by John Romita Jr: In preparation for the Eternals Marvel movie I wanted to read the comic it’s based on. With most other Marvel movies it’s hard to read the comic because it could span so many and they could take inspiration from so many different comics (plus the multiverse and oh my). But with Eternals I was happy to find that it’s all compiled into one volume, it’s about 200 pages and it collects volumes 1-7 of the original comics. I don’t know much about the plot and that’s okay by me!
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: Another Neil Gaiman on my list! This is also in preparation for The Sandman series that is in the works by Netflix. This comic follows Morpheus, the Lord of the Dreaming and his interactions with various gods, humans, and other mythical creatures. I have had this giant book for a few years now and haven’t read it because…. well… if I’m honest, it’s intimidating! This is easily the heaviest book I own. It is 1040 pages so not the longest but because it’s high quality comic book pages all in color well, you can imagine! I am super excited to read it though and then I will need to get Vol 2… gulp.
Supernova by Marissa Meyer: The third and final installment of the Renegades series! The series is about a group of superheroes who are trying to enact order on a city that’s been previously victim of a lot of conflicts between superheroes and villains (to the detriment of all the powerless humans). We follow a villain and her quest to get rid of the superheroes who just try to solve everything with their powers. She’s infiltrated their ranks and gotten super close to many of the superheroes so at this point she’s super conflicted. (As are some of the superheroes!) I’ve been enjoying this series and can’t wait to see how it ends.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. I’ve read the other two books in the past two years or so. I kind of like to spread these out a bit, kind of like candy. Not sure what to say about this without spoilers but basically we follow a group of very wealthy people, there’s romance, there’s drama, there’s a lot of name and brand dropping. Basically a whole other world from mine XD (Talk about escape!)
It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland: A stand alone debut novel about friendship, rock bands, and queer romance! Need I say more? Okay okay I’ll say more. We follow Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph who are members of Moonlight Overthrow, a band that’s become super popular. With the rise in fame plus a romance with two of the band members the band is in trouble of falling out! A storm that ravages their town forces them to get it together and find out just how strong their friendship really is. I learned about this book because the author and I graduated from the same college (albeit different years so I don’t think we ever overlapped.)
And that’s it! HA It might be a lot but since the comics should read fairly fast so I’m hoping that I can get through all the books mentioned. With the heat starting up here in sunny San Diego I expect I’ll spend quite a bit of time reading on the porch in the evenings.
Have you read any of the books mentioned above? What are you most excited to read in June? Do you have a favorite spot where you read during the summer months?