August To-Read List!

I don’t usually do to-read lists because I’m kind of a mood reader and tend to throw these lists out the window, BUT I have a few distinct piles of books that I need to read and I want to make sure I touch upon all of them. I have LOTS to read, and I think that listing out what I’m hoping to read this month will help!

Pile 1: #SummerOfPLL reads

The first half of #SummerOfPLL is over, and I’ve surprised myself by staying on course with this for an entire month without reading anything early or late. At all. Which is very Not Me. So, despite that the second half of this series so far is DEFINITELY going downhill when the first half wasn’t anything particularly special to begin with, I’m determined to keep on track through August, too! Here’s my PLL reading list for August:

  • Stunning
  • Burned
  • Crushed
  • Deadly
  • Toxic
  • Vicious
  • Alison’s Pretty Little Diary
  • Pretty Little Secrets
  • Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Pile 2: Library Books

So, while volunteering at the library I spent about 6 hours over the last couple weeks shelving nonfiction books… And I KIND OF usually find a lot of stuff I want to read while I’m shelving things… So… I KIND OF checked out a giant pile of library books at once… Good job, me! Here’s my library book pile:

  • The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer
  • Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
  • The Librarian’s Book of Quotes complied by Tatyana Eckstrand
  • This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
  • How To Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson, PhD
  • Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft and Pagan Spirituality by Catherine Edwards Sanders
  • Archie: Volume One by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish

Pile 3: ARC August!

Since it’s August and I have A VERY LARGE NUMBER OF UNREAD ARCS, I’m going to make a concentrated effort to catch up on as many of them as possible this month! Here’s all of the unread ARCs I have that have a release date in September or earlier (not all of my ARCs, though… Good luck, me):

  • Harbor Me by Jacqueline Wilson
  • Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  • Dream Country by Shannon Gibney
  • Disbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou
  • How To Speak Cat by National Geographic Kids
  • Like Never And Always by Ann Aguirre
  • Scream Site by Justina Ireland
  • Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
  • Love Letters to Jane’s World by Paige Braddock
  • The Adventures of Wilhelm: A Rat’s Tale by Maria Ritter
  • The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin
  • The Splintered Light by Ginger Johnson
  • Big Words Small Stories: The Missing Donut by Judith Henderson
  • The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
  • Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon
  • Unbroken Anthology
  • Black Diamond Fall by Joseph Olshan
  • Trans Teen Survival Guide by Owl Fisher and Fox Fisher

Considering that my total August TBR is now at 35 books, I have NO illusions about actually finishing all of these things this month. Ideally, though, I would at least like to get through a large chunk of them (and I know that some will take me longer to review than they will to read, as a few of my ARCs are picture books). I feel that this list at least puts me in a good starting place for getting many of the books I actually NEED to read… well, read!

What’s on YOUR reading list for August? Let me know in the comments!

 

July Wrap-up!

July was a great month for reading, but not so much for blogging… I participated in the #24in48 Readathon and read a whopping 15 books in one weekend, which is more than I’ve been averaging PER MONTH all year, and the #SummerOfPLL readalong has also boosted my reading, so I’ve got QUITE a list of books I read last month.

Reads for July

Here’s all I read in July:

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard — 4 of 5 stars

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid — 5 of 5 stars

Flawless by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan — 5 of 5 stars

Perfect by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Christ Priestley  (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

Wicked by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Killer by Sara Shepard — 3 of 5 stars

Heartless by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes — 5 of 5 stars

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King — 4 of 5 stars

Trapped in Death Cave by Bill Wallace — 3 of 5 stars

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle — 4 of 5 stars

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno — 4 of 5 stars

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke — 5 of 5 stars

1984 by George Orwell — 3 of 5 stars

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner — 5 of 5 stars

From a Buick 8 by Stephen King — 3 of 5 stars

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore — 4 of 5 stars

Lizzie by Dawn Ius — 4 of 5 stars

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon — 5 of 5 stars

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — 4 of 5 stars

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon — 5 of 5 stars

The Outsider by Stephen King — 5 of 5 stars

Wanted by Sara Shepard — 4 of 5 stars

Twisted by Sara Shepard — 1 of 5 stars

The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars

Ruthless by Sara Shepard — 2 of 5 stars

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend — 5 of 5 stars

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 30
  • Number of nonfiction books: 0
  • Number of ARCs: 2
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~8
  • Number of library books: 11

Considering that I only read 11 books in June, I am SHOCKED by the number of books I managed to read in July. I wish I could have had more marginalized authors in my reading last month, but a third of my reading was from #SummerOfPLL and I made a concentrated effort to complete or work on some of my DayZero reading goals during #24in48, so I’m not that surprised. I’ll just need to work on that a little harder.

On The Personal Side…

I’ve surprisingly been exercising regularly this month! I’ve been going to yoga classes and water exercise classes, and I’ve actually been enjoying them and looking forward to going. This is weird because I usually hate exercise! I think it probably helps that the temperature has been pretty regularly close to 95 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the month, so going to the indoor pool has felt like a treat. I haven’t been swimming in ages, but I’ve been really happy that I’ve been going.

I also have been driving my car! For how weird getting a car on a short timeline in an unconventional way while still not having my license is, I am really happy that I have my car because I just really love it. I’ve only found one downside to this situation: walking past my car to go to the bus to get groceries, and then walking past my car again with an armload of grocery bags. I take the bus to work and back almost every single day and that doesn’t bother me, but the grocery thing is mildly irritating. I’m getting better at driving, though, and while I usually don’t get to practice more than once a week I’ve actually gotten to practice three times this week! I’m getting much better, and I’m happy with my progress.

I’ve got at LOT of ARCs on my plate (again) and because I did a poor job of reading ARCs in July, I’m going to be doing #ARCAugust this month in an attempt to catch back up again! We’ll see how that goes — I’ve got a lot to read!

How was your July? What are you looking forward to in August?

ARC Review: See All The Stars by Kit Frick

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: See All The Stars

Author: Kit Frick

Category: YA Contemporary

Publisher/Date: McElderry Books/14 August 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32718970-see-all-the-stars

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/See-All-Stars-Kit-Frick-ebook/dp/B075RQ3FQC/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/see-all-the-stars-kit-frick/1127208720?ean=9781534404373

Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for drug use, alcohol use, unhealthy relationships, and death.

loved this book — it’s one of those books that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the very end. This book alternates between two timelines: Ellory’s junior year and Ellory’s senior year. The switching was handled really well and really created tension and mystery surrounding the story, and it had me on my toes as I read.

The emotion in this book is raw and gut-wrenching; there is so much sadness and loneliness and it all really rang true to me. There is a stark contrast between the friend-surrounded Ellory of junior year and relatively-isolated Ellory of senior year, and it hurts to read, but it hurts to read in a way that made me want to share Ellory’s pain as I read.

See All The Stars dives deep into first love and teenage friendships in a beautifully heartbreaking story. There is a twist at the end, which I will not spoil, that really changes the way you see the rest of the book that you’ve just read. It’s wonderfully-crafted and engaging, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestley

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Maudlin Towers: Curse of the Werewolf Boy

Author: Chris Priestley

Category: MG Mystery

Publisher/Date: Bloomsbury/5 October 2017

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36150286-maudlin-towers

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Curse-Werewolf-Boy-Maudlin-Towers/dp/1681199327/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/curse-of-the-werewolf-boy-chris-priestley/1127084657?ean=9781681199320

Mildew and Sponge don’t think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom­laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!

But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What’s their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?

Hugely funny, deliciously creepy and action-packed by turns, this brand new series from Chris Priestley is perfect for 8+ readers who like their mysteries with a bit of bite. Fans of Lemony Snicket and Chris Riddell will love Curse of the Werewolf Boy.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

This book was cute and funny, and it has a lot going for it. It reads a lot like a satire of some magical boarding school books; so many on-the-nose names and silly traditions as well as adults with exaggerated characteristics fill the pages of this one. The all-important School Spoon goes missing, and as Mildew and Sponge try to figure out what happened to it they run into more questions than they do answers. This book has a lot of twists and turns, and it’s very amusing.

At the same time, I don’t feel like this book was the right book for me. Though this is usually the kind of book that I like, I didn’t feel particularly grabbed by this book; it didn’t read as anything particularly unique, and the pacing of it felt a bit too quick for my taste. I think the plot was a bit too all over the place and the writing could have been a little bit clearer. It wasn’t necessarily poorly-written or anything, but it wasn’t quite meshing with me.

Younger middle grade readers who love creepy yet funny mysteries would probably really love this book. Though it’s not one of my personal favorites, it still has a lot going for it and may be very entertaining for young readers.

Final rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!)

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. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is Best Reads of 2018 (So Far!). I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year so this list was difficult to make, but it reminded me of just how many amazing books I’ve come across recently!

10.) Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

This is a truly nerdy book, and the fact that it takes place in the area where I live and grew up made this book a really fun read for me!

9.) The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno  

This one was recommended by my friend Silly Little Ravenclaw for its excellent Dissociative Identity Disorder rep, and it did not disappoint!

8.) Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

A fantastic biography of an excellent comics artist, this book was probably the best nonfiction book I’ve read in quite a while.

7.) American Panda by Gloria Chao

Funny, relatable, and absolutely charming, this book hit on so many early adulthood notes that felt so true to me.

6.) Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

I came to this book for the cats, and I stayed for the mental illness rep. This comic was so relatable and funny, and I definitely read it at the right time.

5.) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Talk about a gut-punch. This book hurts to read, but it’s cathartic at the same time, and it’s well worth it.

4.) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon 

This is another one of those books that hurts to read, and it is so, so worth it. The sibling and family relationships in this book make it truly something special.

3.) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I was on the waitlist at the library for this book for nearly half a year because of how many good things I’d heard about it, and it was worth the wait. Wow. Just wow.

2.) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

This book felt personal to me for a number of reasons, from the characters to the writing. This is one of the books I most frequently recommend to others, for sure.

1.) Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

I have a thing for books that hurt me, apparently. This book hurts. It hurts BAD. And it’s just perfect.

What are some of your favorite reads of 2018 so far? Does your list overlap with mine at all? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review: Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Anger is a Gift

Author: Mark Oshiro

Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)

Publisher/Date: Tor Teen/22 May 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36142487-anger-is-a-gift

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Anger-Gift-Novel-Mark-Oshiro-ebook/dp/B0756JKLF1/

Barnes and Noble: https://smile.amazon.com/Anger-Gift-Novel-Mark-Oshiro-ebook/dp/B0756JKLF1/

A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for death (including but not limited to the sudden death of a character), police brutality, racism, transphobia (including misgendering)/homophobia/queerphobia, ableism, anxiety/depictions of panic attacks, and graphic violence.

I have been putting off writing this review for a really long time because I don’t know if anything I write about this book will do it justice. This is one of those books that will make your heart melt and then proceed to tear it into a million little tiny pieces. The characters in this book are a delight — one thing that really makes a book great for me is when all of the characters in the book feel like whole, well-rounded people rather than just the point-of-view character, and this book nails this. The teens in the cast are almost entirely queer people of color, and I really love this because while many people claim that having so many queer characters in one place is “unrealistic,” it’s really representative of how queer teens tend to find each other and become friends rather than having a token queer person or two within the friend group.

The romance in this book is sweet and my heart is still aching from it. Moss is a Black gay boy and Javier is a Latinx gay boy, and they are just so damn cute together. The two of them absolutely shattered me, and my heart still aches because of how much I loved them.

A lot of this book can be hard to swallow because much of it is very graphic. Episodes of graphic police brutality in the book don’t just focus on race (though they definitely still do); they also show how that racism is combined with queerphobia and ableism and how these communities are affected. The intersectionality of this book is beautifully done and it opens up a lot of discussions about how institutionalized oppression works on multiple axes. It’s good to know going into it that these scenes are brutal, though; if you’re sensitive to violence toward trans or disabled people, this is something to be aware of.

This is easily one of my favorite reads of 2018, and it’s definitely one that I will want to read again in the future. Please read this one.

Final rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Esme’s Wish

Author: Elizabeth Foster

Category: YA Fantasy

Publisher/Date: Odyssey Books/30 October 2017

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33634667-esme-s-wish

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Esmes-Wish-Elizabeth-Foster-ebook/dp/B07DBMD258/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/esmes-wish-elizabeth-foster/1127273417?ean=9781925652246

“A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr,author of Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all. 

This fresh, inventive tale, the first in an MG-to-YA series, is an ideal read for 10-14 year olds.

Esme’s Wish recently won first place in the fantasy category of the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, which recognises excellence in children’s literature.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via LibraryThing’s Early Readers program. This book has content warnings for parental death/drowning/disappearance (lost at sea), grief, some violence, and some gender binarism.

This book was an okay read for me. The writing itself was really good — the book is on the cusp of being MG and YA, and it felt like it was well-written for its intended audience. I was also really enchanted by the worldbuilding; the alternate world that Esme ends up in where she learns her mother, who was lost at sea some years ago, had apparently spent a lot of time is a really well-developed setting. It’s immersive and leaves you feeling very curious about the people and beings and secrets that are hidden in this world, and the concept and execution of Gifts was something I also really liked. The world itself is really fascinating, and that kept me reading.

I was less entranced by the story itself. This book has a really slow pace and it doesn’t really map out where the story is headed as well as it should. It’s definitely character-driven instead of plot-driven, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for me it felt that it was a little bit too close to the former than the latter. Additionally, the ending itself felt like it came and went way too quickly, and while I get that this is the first book in a series I still felt like it wasn’t resolved enough and the rush of the ending of the book didn’t feel very satisfying.

The other thing that bothered me was how the gender of the sirens was discussed within the book. The sirens are apparently genderfluid, though the early part of the book claimed “Their sex is … indeterminate” (p. 55). There are at least two places in the book where the genders of the sirens are determined by their pronouns (“she’s not really a he” or “she became a he” or something of that sort), and that really bothered me as a nonbinary trans person because it ignores that pronouns aren’t gender and that there are more than two genders. If you’re sensitive about nonbinary erasure and genders being referred to by pronouns, this is something to consider before reading.

I didn’t mind this book, but it wasn’t the best read for me. If you’re looking for a light fantasy upper MG/lower YA with no romance and solid worldbuilding, this might be the book for you.

Final rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

June Wrap-up!

I wrote actual blog posts this month! And quite a few of them! Yay! Finishing up school definitely increased the amount of time I have to read and blog, and I’m happy that I’m able to do more here now because I love posting reviews and things and I missed doing this as much as I’d like.

Reads for June

Here’s all I read in June:

American Panda by Gloria Chao — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Final Draft by Riley Redgate (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

A Quick & Easy Guide To They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

Clowders by Vanessa Morgan (ARC) — 2.5 of 5 stars — review here!

When the Beat Drops by Anna Hecker (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

Manga Classics: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, et. al  (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review here!

Probable Claws (Mrs. Murphy #27) by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) are Creating a Gender Revolution by Ann Travers (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars — review here!

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster (ARC) — 4 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

 

 

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of nonfiction books: 2
  • Number of ARCs: 8
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~6
  • Number of library books: 0

Look at all of those links to reviews that I actually wrote this month instead of just slapping a “forthcoming” label on! And guess what? One of those three other “forthcoming” reviews is ALREADY WRITTEN! I’m getting so good at this! (Even though I still have a HELL of a backlog of reviews I still need to write sitting in my post drafts…)

I spent most of my reading time this month concentrating on my ARCs from NetGalley — I’d gotten quite a few of them that I hadn’t been able to give my full attention to because of school and they’d been published before I had a chance to read and review them, so I made an effort to read them and review them and get back to where the ARCs I have are for forthcoming releases rather than books that have already been published. I got to a good place, got my ratio back above 80% and only two books that have been published already sitting in my queue… And then I went on a requesting spree and got approved for 11 more books because I don’t ever learn and still underestimate how many publishers are willing to approve me to read their books. So I’ve got plenty of stuff to read now! It’s a good thing I have more time to read and stuff now, as I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do a better job of keeping up with reviewing ARCs before they release now.

On The Personal Side…

The biggest news of June — I have a Master of Library and Information Science degree now! What’s kind of funny is that the date my MLIS was awarded, according to my transcript, is six years to the day from the date I graduated from high school. It feels weird being done in more ways than one — it’s weird saying I have a master’s degree, sure, but it’s also weird that this break from school isn’t a short one and I DON’T have to just start classes again in a few weeks. I have been in some sort of school continuously for 20 academic years and I’m used to having to go back to class after a certain amount of break, but I’m no longer enrolled anywhere and don’t have to do that now… I don’t really understand this concept of NOT having to spend my non-work hours doing school-related things. I have free time, and I don’t comprehend it.

The second biggest news of June — I’m getting a car next week! I’m getting a really good deal from a family friend on a 2015 Hyundai Elantra that I just love, and I’m really excited about it even though I still don’t have my license. I may still be a gay who can’t drive, but at least now I’m a gay who can’t drive BUT WITH A CAR.

In terms of July projects, Camp NaNoWriMo is going to be here in 45 minutes for me and I’m really excited because that “free time” stuff means I can actually write this month! I can’t wait. I’ll be running sprints for a few shifts a week from the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account along with some of my fellow MLs, so come write with us! Additionally, one of my fellow MLs, BookTuber Silly Little Ravenclaw, and I are doing a Pretty Little Liars readalong (#SummerOfPLL) and you should join us! My blog post about the readalong has some fancy calendars that I put together while using Canva for the first time, and it’ll be lots of fun!

What are you looking forward to in July?

ARC Review: Manga Classics Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan, and Julien Choy

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Romeo and Juliet

Author: William Shakespeare, Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan, and Julien Choy

Category: Comic/Manga Drama Adaptation

Publisher/Date: UDON Entertainment/15 May 2018

Edition: eARC

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38920941-manga-classics

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Romeo-Juliet-Manga-Classics-Crystal/dp/1947808044/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/romeo-and-juliet-william-shakespeare/1127403905?ean=9781947808041

Romeo and Juliet is the classic tragedy of western literature. Created by William Shakespeare, it is tale of two very young lovers from Verona, Italy who defy the wishes of their feuding families, get married then, and tragically, end their own lives in the name of love. It is their deaths that ultimately help the rival families of the Capulet’s and Montague’s find reconciliation. Manga Classics brings an incredible new reading experience with this adaptation of Shakespeare’s most popular and frequently performed plays: Romeo and Juliet.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for death, suicide, physical violence, murder, and tumultuous family relationships.

I’ve always been fascinated by Shakespeare — a Shakespeare class that I took during my very first term of college was what sold me on being an English major. What I remember most about Shakespeare, though, is reading Romeo and Juliet during English class back in high school. I didn’t have a ton of problems reading it myself (though I was pretty reliant on the glossary at the bottoms of the pages of the book we used), but almost the entire rest of my class had a ton of trouble following along — to the point where they would ask me to “translate it into English” so that they could figure out what was going on. Needless to say, that wasn’t exactly the best Shakespeare experience for them OR for me.

This is the kind of text I wish that my classmates would have had in high school instead of the straight text of the play. Shakespeare’s plays weren’t really made to be read straight; they were made to be performed, and comics is a wonderful format for this because it combines reading the play with watching the drama unfold. What was even more delightful for me was the fact that the text itself is virtually untouched; every one of Shakespeare’s original lines is given space inside a word balloon, and it’s not at all abridged. Readers of this adaptation are getting Shakespeare’s original work in its entirety, but they’re getting it in a way that is dynamic and fun and, for many younger readers in particular, easier to digest.

The only thing that I found off-putting about this book relates to the illustrations. The art itself is lovely and rich and a pleasure to look at; what bothers me, though, is how the characters are drawn. The majority of the characters look like your “typical” manga-style characters, which wouldn’t be a problem except that the characters are virtually all white Italian people (as the adaptation kept the play’s original location of Verona, Italy) and manga facial characteristics are actually depicting Japanese facial features. There’s a lot of confusion that goes around about how manga characters in all manga “look white” even though the style is designed to depict Japanese characters, and white manga characters have a very different look to them. I worry that because the characters in this book are drawn as Japanese manga characters rather than as white characters, it’s going to continue to spread the idea that manga characters are white when they really aren’t. I feel like this is something that should have been taken into account more.

On the other side of things, the team who worked on this adaptation really did their research — they took a trip to Verona to look at the architecture and really understand the history of the place and to find the most accurate backdrops for the illustrations they could find. They put a lot of work into ensuring that the details in the book were accurate, and I really appreciated that.

Overall, this was a really good adaptation of this play, despite the issues I have with depictions of race. If you love Romeo and Juliet, or want to read the play but have trouble following Shakespeare’s text alone, this is a really nice way of experiencing the story.

Final rating: 4 of 5 stars

Orange sky with shadowy trees and a full moon with the text "#SummerOfPLL: A Pretty Little Liars Readalong: July 2nd - August 31st"

#SummerOfPLL — A Readalong!

Orange sky with shadowy trees and a full moon with the text "#SummerOfPLL: A Pretty Little Liars Readalong: July 2nd - August 31st"

It’s summer, and that means there’s lots of time for reading! My friend and booktuber Wulfie, aka Silly Little Ravenclaw, and I are doing a full readalong of all of the Pretty Little Liars books by Sara Shepard in July and August! If you’ve been wanting to read this series but haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, you should join us and discuss it with us using the hashtag #SummerOfPLL on Twitter!

Our schedule (created by Wulfie!) is as follows:

1.) Pretty Little Liars — July 2-4
2.) Flawless — July 5-7
3.) Perfect — July 8-10
4.) Unbelievable — July 11-13
5.) Wicked — July 14-16
6.) Killer — July 17-19
7.) Heartless — July 20-22
8.) Wanted — July 23-25
9.) Twisted — July 26-28
10.) Ruthless — July 29-31
*Break/Catch-up/Read-Ahead/Whatever-You-Want Time!* — August 1-4
11.) Stunning — August 5-7
12.) Burned — August 8-10
13.) Crushed — August 11-13
14.) Deadly — August 14-16
15.) Toxic — August 17-19
16.) Vicious — August 20-22
17.) Alison’s Pretty Little Diary — August 23-25
18.) Pretty Little Secrets — August 26-28
19.) Ali’s Pretty Little Lies — August 29-31

Halfway through the readalong we’ll have a four-day break which can be used to catch up if you’re behind, read ahead if you want, or take a break from these books completely if you’re getting burned out! The three companion books to the series (listed as 17-19 in the list above) will be read after the full series — Wulfie considered putting them chronologically in the schedule where they should be but didn’t feel like figuring that out, so this method seemed easier. 🙂

Would you prefer a calendar to a list of dates? I’ve created a calendar for each month with our reading dates written out!

A July calendar with the #SummerOfPLL reading dates listed earlier in this blog post.

 

An August calendar with the #SummerOfPLL reading dates listed earlier in this blog post.

If this pace doesn’t work for you or if you don’t want to read ALL of them in two months, that’s totally okay! You are definitely still welcome to join in the discussion with us. This is a MOUNTAIN of books and a huge undertaking, but it should be a lot of fun as well!

Are you planning to join us? Awesome! Let us know on Twitter using #SummerOfPLL or talk with us in the comments of this blog post and Wulfie’s YouTube video. We hope you’ll join us, and happy reading!

-B