*taps mic* Is this thing on?
Hello folks, it’s been a HOT minute since I posted a wrap up, but we’re back in business this month.
I think I haven’t actually posted a wrap up since April? That’s THREE months ago, wow, I truly am an instrument of chaos.
If you’re wondering WHY I haven’t posted a wrap up in ages it’s because
I’m a disgrace to blogging and you should call me out on it I fell VERY far behind with my reviews over the last couple of months. And, because I use my reviews to write up the book section of my wrap ups, I felt like I couldn’t discuss those books fully because I hadn’t reviewed them yet.
At one point there were about 25 books on my currently reading shelf on Goodreads. It was a mess. I thought the end of days might have arrived.
But then, a miracle arrived.
Over the course of several evenings I caught up on every single review I was behind on. Even if it was just a paragraph or two, I wrote my thoughts on (pretty much) every book I’ve read over the last few months.
So, now that I’m all up-to-date with my reviews, I can share my July wrap up with you. It feels good to be back.
Ace // Audiobook // 4 stars
This is a really nuanced, thoughtful work of non fiction about asexuality, which includes insights from various ace people Angela Chen interviewed, as well as her own personal experiences of discovering she was ace.
Chen also explores ace representation in the media, the different attitudes towards sex among ace people (sex favourable, sex indifferent, sex repulsed being just a few) and goes into detail about why acephobia and denial of the existence of ace people in the LGBTQIAP+ community itself is so damaging.
This book feels extremely well researched and is a valuable addition to the existing group of non fiction books about asexuality. I identify as somewhere on the ace spectrum so a lot of Chen’s writing really resonated with me, especially the discussions of queerplatonic relationships.
Content warnings for discussion of acephobia, homophobia, and queerphobia, mentions of ace erasure.
How She Likes It // Audiobook // 4 stars
This is a fun adult romance between CEO Isabel and new employee Adam, who find themselves working together at Isabel’s company after a one night stand. I really liked the premise for this, so I thought I’d give the audio a go (since it was on Scribd) and it didn’t disappoint.
Isabel is exactly the kind of confident, strong, and powerful-but-fair MC I love and I really enjoyed seeing her relationship with Adam develop. There were a few moments where I found the third act conflict a little overblown, but I didn’t really mind, as the emotional payout at the end was worth it.
Content warnings for violence, corporate sexism, abduction of a child.
Sitting Pretty // Audiobook // 4 stars
I wanted to read this for Disability Pride month so I decided to pick up the audiobook on Scribd and I ended up listening to the whole thing in one afternoon. This is a really interesting, engaging memoir about Rebekah Taussig’s life growing up paralyzed in the 90s and 2000s and the things she’s learned at different stages in her life.
She discusses her childhood, playing happily alongside her siblings and loving to dance. She explains how she didn’t see her body as different to anyone else’s until she got older and society started to force these ideas onto her.
She also discusses accessible buildings and the struggle to find accessible housing, people’s desire to ‘help’ her in public spaces (even though they’re not really helping at all) and the role able bodied guilt plays in their desire to ‘help’.
Taussig packs a wealth of knowledge and information into a 7.5 hour audiobook and I finished it feeling like I had learned so much from listening to her words.
Content warnings for ableism, gaslighting, cancer, discussions of pregnancy.
The Wolf at Bay // Audiobook // 4 stars
I loved book one in this series (The Wolf at the Door) so I started the second book almost immediately and, if anything, I enjoyed it even more than the first.
Cooper and Oliver are now partners at the BSI, investigating a new case linked to Cooper’s family, while also navigating their feelings for each other.
I love their witty interactions and growing closeness and the spicy scenes are really something. The way they’ve begun opening up to each other and trusting each other with more of themselves is *chef’s kiss*.
There’s a pattern emerging in these books, which I hope will be a common feature in all Charlie Adhara’s work, where the mystery builds to a big action scene/dramatic showdown in the final chapters of the book. And I’m living for it. Adhara writes these scenes so well that I’ve come to look forward to them at the end of each novel.
Content warnings for (previous) death of a parent, emotional manipulation, murder, blood, gore, broken bones, near drowning, physical assault.
How We Fight For Our Lives // Audiobook // 4 stars
This is an incredibly emotional, thought-provoking memoir about Saeed Jones’s live as a young, gay, Black man growing up in the southern states of the USA. I listened to Jones trace his relationship with his mother and grandmother, his relationship with his sexuality, and his desire to go to NYU.
His struggles with self love and thoughts about his complex relationship with his mother are written in beautiful, nuanced prose that makes this a deeply contemplative but very rewarding read, and one that stimulates rumination on our own family ties and mortality.
Content warnings for death of a parent, physical assault and violence, sexual abuse, homophobia, and racial and homophobic slurs.
Blackout // Audiobook // 4 stars
This is an absolutely brilliant short story collection and I read the majority of it in one afternoon because I couldn’t put it down.
Each story is set in over the course of the same day during a blackout in New York and each main character is trying to get to a party happening later that evening. My favourite thing about this collection is the interconnected nature of every story. Each main character is linked to one or several other characters in the other stories the final story seamlessly brings them all together in one place.
Every story is really well written and the audio narration is exquisite. One of my favourites is a queer coming out story that really warms the heart. I’m so excited that the Obamas are adapting this because I think it’ll be fantastic on screen.
Content warnings for panic attacks, homophobia and queerphobia, acrophobia, discussions of racism and racial profiling.
You Will Get Through This Night // Audiobook
This is an informative, educational book offering useful tips on how to deal with periods of poor mental health, including practical exercises to dry when feeling anxious or stressed.
I’ve watched Dan’s YouTube videos for a long time and went to see him on tour with Phil several years ago, so although I don’t think this book is aimed primarily at me (I’m lucky enough to have had good MH for most of my life and only suffered from anxiety for a short period), I still wanted to give it a go.
And I think this book will help a lot of people. Dan consulted with mental health professionals when writing a lot of the chapters so most of the advice is grounded in scientific facts, but he also offers tips on what has specifically worked for him, lending the book a personal feel.
The audiobook is narrated by Dan himself, which means his humour and wit shine through, and makes the book feel like you’re sitting having a coffee and a chat with him, which, honestly, would be amazing.
Content warnings for discussions of anxiety, GAD, social anxiety, SAD, depression, attempted suicide, homophobia, bullying, and familial abuse.
Gearbreakers // Audiobook
I was really excited to pick this up because the synopsis sounded so unique and I’ve never read a mecha story before (as far as I can remember) but I’ve enjoyed programmes like Voltron in the past. Plus, it’s sapphic so that’s always a win. But sadly this felt like a case of a great premise, but a missed opportunity in execution.
It may be because I was listening to this on audio, but a lot of the fight scenes felt difficult to follow and the climactic final battle seemed over far too quickly.
I also didn’t feel any chemistry between the two main characters, so couldn’t really invest in their romance either, which was such a shame. I think the author was aiming for Eris’s crew to come across as a rag-tag loveable group of misfits, which they did, but we didn’t get enough of their personalities for me to fully connect with them.
Overall, this wasn’t really for me, but I also haven’t been on much of a sci-fi kick recently, so I feel like other people who are more into the genre will enjoy this more!
Content warnings for on-page character death, (previous) death of parents and family members, blood, gore, torture, violence, fires/building fires.
Thrown to the Wolves
We got to meet Cooper’s family in the previous book and now we get to meet Oliver’s in this book. We love continuity here.
This was another great installment in the series. Oliver and Cooper are fast becoming two of my favourite characters and a partnership that I would tank a bullet for. I really enjoyed how we go to learn more about Oliver’s past in this story and more about the Park werewolves and the lore surrounding them.
Cooper needs to stop throwing himself directly into harms way though, I just want him to be SAFE. But I love the lengths he’s willing to go to to protect and help Oliver, and how he was the voice of reason for Oliver at certain points in this novel. I’m looking forward to seeing where their relationship goes next in book four.
Content warnings for violence, blood, murder and attempted murder, death of family members, reappearance of estranged family members, gaslighting and emotional manipulation, explicit sexual scenes.
Monstrous Design // ARC
The stakes felt higher in this book, with Camille and Ada both (separately) trying to pull off subterfuge missions by going undercover in their enemies’ home territories.
One of the things that made the first book so enjoyable for me was the sapphic romance, and sadly there was very little of that in this book because Ada and Camille are apart for most of the story.
I know that this was just part of the plot and they had to go their separate ways to save their friend, but I missed them being together, scheming and dancing on rooftops. Hopefully we get more sweet sapphic moments with them in book three.
I buddy read this with Helen and there were times when we had questions about gaps in the plot and the validity of character decisions, but on the whole, we had a lot of fun reading this together and we’ll potentially read book three together too.
Content warnings for violence, blood, long term illness, (previous) death of parents, murder, shooting, injury, kidnapping, reanimation, electrocution, animal cruelty.
Ms Marvel volume 8 // Paperback // 4 stars
Another great volume! I loved the reappearance of Red Dagger, his and Kamala’s interactions are the best.
I like how Kamala met him in Karachi and they fought villains on his home soil and now he’s visiting her in Jersey city and they’re fighting together on her home soil, there’s some nice symmetry there.
I’m also a fan of the way they understand each other and challenge each other’s views when necessary. Here’s hoping he’s around for a few more volumes!
Content warnings for violence, allusions to Islamophobia and racism.
Ms Marvel volume 9 // Paperback // 4 stars
Although Kamala was absent for a lot of this volume, I still really enjoyed the story because we got to see her friends step up to the mantle and really come through to support her. We see how much they care about her and the symbol of hope that she’s become for Jersey City.
We also got to see more Red Dagger in this volume which was great, and there were some VERY CUTE scenes between him and Kamala.
The humour in the whole series has been really entertaining, but in this volume in particular it was just spot on and I found myself chuckling (a lot).
I can’t believe this is the penultimate volume in the series, I could keep reading about Kamala’s adventures (and misadventures) for another 10 volumes.
Content warnings for violence, kidnapping.
Since I haven’t posted a wrap up since April, here’s a round of everything that’s been going on from May to now.
At the start of May it was my Mum’s birthday, so we went for a meal, baked her a cake (homemade vegan chocolate cake) and my sister came for the day as a surprise, so we could all give her her presents together.
Later in the month, I went to a national park with some friends and we took some snacks and went walking.
There were some architectural ruins that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings (which I loved) and the views were amazing. (Shame we got rained on later.)
I also met up with a few different friends throughout the month for lunch, bookshop browsing, and hanging out in the sunshine.
June was my birthday month and I really fancied going on a daytrip since I hadn’t been to any cities in almost a year because of lockdown. So I went to Liverpool with my parents and it was a 10/10 day.
We visited the docks, went for lunch to Mowgli’s, and I maaaay have bought a few books too. As a birthday treat to myself, I also got two new helix piercings (in my left ear), which takes my total number of ear piercings to seven. 😂
Later in the month, I finally got to go visit my bestie Hollie for the weekend and it was wonderful.
We went to Bath and Bristol. I’ve never actually been to Bristol before, so we had a great time exploring the city and buying books from Forbidden Planet. (Seriously, I think I bought four (or five?) books in two days, SOS.)
We also visited Mr B’s in Bath, Toppings, and Waterstones, so it was a very bookish few days. In the evenings, we put on face masks and watched Loki. A tip top weekend, all in all.
During the first weekend in July (I think) my folks and I went to visit my sister and we headed to Bill’s restaurant for lunch, where I had one of the best vegan desserts I’ve ever had.
Salted caramel chocolate tart. 🤤 Just thinking about it makes me hungry.
A couple of weekends later, we went up to Newcastle (where a lot of my family live) for the weekend and had The Best time.
I saw all of my family for an (outdoor) anniversary party, met up with friends for brunch at a vegan cafe, watched the Wimbledon and Euros final, and went to the beach.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I bought four books and that two of them were extremely high up on my wishlist so I have no regrets.
Towards the end of July, I went to see an outdoor production of Much Ado About Nothing (one of my favourite Shakespeare plays) at a National Trust venue and like the basic noodle I am, I was almost late because I was getting an iced coffee. Sigh.
But the play was good and it was lovely to sit outdoors in the evening after such a warm day (we were having a heat wave that week).
Aaaand, I starting watching two new shows in June/July (a Chinese drama, Killer and Healer, and a Thai drama, Fish upon the Sky, which I’ve since finished), and did my longest run of 2021 (17.1km, or 10.6 miles).
So that’s a whistle-stop tour of what I’ve been up to over the summer (so far).
What have you been up to recently? What have you been reading? Tell me all about it!