What I plan on reading in January

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m sure you neither noticed nor cared that I have been gone for a while, so I’ll keep the explanation short. In 2019, I lost my passion for blogging somewhat and started exploring other areas of my life, including workout classes, language learning, a buys full-time job and a lot of traveling. While I am still doing all those things, I caught myself making reading plans again lately.

Even though I haven’t blogged in a while, I’ve still been reading. Mood reading, that is. Now, I find myself wanting to try challenges, TBRs and more again. So here I am, in January of 2020, writing a blog post. I won’t promise that I’ll post regularly again.

Last year, I fell in love with the “Wheel of TBR” videos on Cody’s channel. They give her direction to read yet allow her to pick the books to fit the given prompt at the same time. I decided to try the same for the first month of 2020. As I’ve been reading less the past few months, and have a busy month ahead, I decided to spin the wheel 5 times.

1: read an #ownvoices book

how to be remy cameron

Spin 1 gave me the prompt to read an own voices novel. Since I recently bought How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters, I figured that’d be the perfect read to kick off the year. I adored the author’s previous novel, Running With Lions, and can’t wait to read more of his work.

Synopsis
Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

2: randomized read

de vrouw die door het vuur gingThe second spin of the wheel ended up on “randomized read” which means I have to go to my Goodreads TBR shelf and sort the books at random. The first one to pop up is the one I have to read.

The book selected was De Vrouw Die Door Het Vuur Ging by Manda Scott. This is a translated version, the original (English) title is Into the Fire.

I was a tad discouraged when I saw this pop up, because this book seems absolutely huge. I know Goodreads says it “only” has 500 pages but for some reason it seems like a lot more to me.

Synopsis
February 2014: Police Capitaine Inés Picaut is called out to investigate a blaze in the old town of Orléans. This is the fourth in a series of increasingly brutal arson attacks, and at the centre of the conflagration lies a body. 

September 1429: Joan of Arc is in the process of turning the tide of The Hundred Years’ War. English troops have Orléans under siege, and Tomas Rustbeard, the Duke of Bedford’s most accomplished agent, finally has her in his sights. But he knows that killing ‘The Maid’ – the apparently illiterate peasant girl who nonetheless has an unmatched sense of military strategy and can ride a warhorse in battle – is not enough. 

3: read your highest rated book

words of radianceWhen spin number 3 landed on “highest rated book”, I wanted to jump out the window. Why? Simply because I knew that the highest rated book on my shelf is Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, the sequel to The Way of Kings.

Remember when I mentioned I had a busy month ahead a few paragraphs ago? Yeah. Apparently, now I have to find time to read a 1000+ page book too.

I am really excited about this book though. I adored the first novel in the series and I can’t wait to find out more about the world and get to know the characters better. I’m already way too attached to everyone we met in book 1 (especially Kaladin). I’m also secretly happy this TBR made me pick this up because I don’t want to wait 5 years before continuing the series.

4: pick a short read

silver in the woodThank you, wheel, for blessing me with a short read after putting Words of Radiance on my list for the month! I’m so grateful.

In the same order in which I purchased How to Be Remy Cameron, I bought  Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh. The perfect choice for this prompt, as it’s only 112 pages long. I was already quite excited to read this, and then I saw it on Destiny (Howling Libraries) favorite reads of 2019 list…

Synopsis
There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

5: read a classic

little womenAnother prompt that terrifies me… To be honest, that’s the point of using the wheel: encouraging me to pick up the books I’ve been putting off for a while or might not pick from my shelf on my own.

I actually only have two unread classics so my choices were limited. After hearing so many people rave about the new movie, I decided to go for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

I have never read this book nor have I watched an adaptation of the story. I’m excited to find out what this book is actually about!

Synopsis
Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.


That’s it! Those are the books I’m hoping to read this month. I think the wheel was a tad unkind to me, leaving me with these long books to finish, but I’m genuinely excited about all these reads. I hope I’ll have a good reading month with these picks.

Have you read any of these books? What are you planning to read in January?

what I read in September, a late wrap up

I’m aware that I haven’t posted anything but a wrap up or tbr since mid-July, and for that I apologize. I mentioned in July that I wouldn’t post much for a while because I’m both overwhelmed with life and have lost some of the blogging magic.

I do want to keep sharing what I read with you all, despite the blogging slump, which is why I’ve been posting wrap ups every month. Let’s ignore my prolonged absence for a bit and talk about the books (manga, really) I managed to read in September.

Shortcake Cake vol. 3 by Suu Morishita – ★★★.₅
I started reading this manga in August, after buying copies of the first two volumes. I quite enjoyed them, but didn’t fall in love with the story or characters. The sentences are chopped up so much that the dialogue doesn’t flow at all. However, the hotel I was staying at in Tokyo was the Manga Art Hotel, and they (obviously) had a ton of manga you could read for free. Shortcake Cake was also available! I decided to continue the manga as I did like the first two volumes. I feel the same way about the third volume as I did the first two though. I like it, but I don’t love it.

Escape Journey vol. 1 by Tanaka Ogeretsu – ★★★★
Escape Journey was also available at aforementioned hotel, and looked pretty interesting. It’s a second-chance m/m romance set in university, which just seemed perfect to me. This could have been a 4.5 or 5 stars if it weren’t for the completely unnecessary rape scene (and the fact it was written by a woman even though it’s an m/m romance). While I would advise you to be careful with the scene I just mentioned if that is triggering to you, I did enjoy this volume overall. It’s very smutty though, so please keep that in mind!

Sweet Blue Flowers vol. 1 (omnibus edition) by Takako Shimura – ★★★★
I went from a smutty m/m romance to a sweet, adorable f/f one with Sweet Blue Flowers. It follows two girls who rekindle their old friendship when they start taking the train to school together every day. While they go to different schools and have their own friend groups, they take the train together every day. It has so many sweet moments, multiple LGBT+ characters and relationships, and I absolutely loved it. The only reason this didn’t receive a higher rating is because I felt like I needed a diagram or chart to keep up with the different characters and their relationships. It became so confusing after a while! Would highly recommend this manga if you haven’t read it already!

That’s it. That’s all I managed to finish in September. I know, I barely read anything! To be fair, I was traveling for almost half the month, and work was crazy right before leaving. I also started taking classes once a week last month which only added to the hectic schedule. I’m quite happy with what I managed to read though. I’m happy to have discovered some more manga.

What did you read in September?

A late July wrap up

I know this post is quite late as we’re already halfway through the month of August, but better late than never. I only read a few things during July thanks to the reading slump I’d been in for a while already. Here’s what I managed to finish!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin – ★★★★★
I had been rereading this since March. I do love this series but I wasn’t feeling motivated to read it whatsoever. Then the #IronThroneReadalong happened, which gave me the push to finish this book. I read along with the group and found so many nuggets and hints to the later events in the story. I annotated my copy as well!

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 3 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★
I’m still on my FMA kick, and I don’t see it ending soon. I am falling in love with all of the characters, one volume at a time.

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 4 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅
I’m powering through this manga! Pretty soon I’ll have nothing left to read… I’m both excited to find out how it will end and sad that it will come to a close soon.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – ★★★
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and I was over the moon when I got accepted for a review copy on Netgalley. I’ve already reviewed it as well. I enjoyed it, but found it nowhere near as epic as her previous novel, The Kiss Quotient.

Twelve Kings (Song of the Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu – ★★★.₅
I loved the world, characters and history of this fantasy novel, but was disappointed by the pacing and writing. I’ve summarized my thoughts on Goodreads, as I’ve taken a break from posting. I would still recommend this book, and I’ll definitely continue the series, but I have to admit I was expecting more from this SFF novel.


That’s all I read during the month of July! I apologize for the late post and the very short thoughts on each book. As I mentioned in my ‘taking a break’ post, I haven’t felt very inspired to write here. However, I still wanted to share my July reads with you. I also want to put up my July in the life post in the coming week so I can chat to you all about what I watched, listened to, and did in the last month.

How was your month? Did you read any good books?

July reading prompts, my random monthly TBR

As I have been doing every single month of this year so far, I’m here to talk to you about my monthly reading prompts for July. If you’re unaware what this entails, each month I chose 3 or 4 prompts of the Popsugar Reading Challenge through a random number generator. This challenges me and guides my reading without creating a TBR that’s set in stone.

I haven’t had much luck with reading the past two months, honestly. I haven’t read all that much, and if it weren’t for manga my reading count would be much lower. I’ve actively decided to not participate in any readathons in July (even though there are so many great ones happening) because I need to relax about my reading before the NEWTs in August come around. First, I need a few weeks of non-pressured reading. Anyway, let’s take a look at the prompts I’ll hopefully be able to tick off the list by the end of July.

a book published posthumously

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
This book has been on my shelf for years, even though I’m such a huge Tolkien fan. His works are just so intimidating! However, as July is a month of non-pressured reading I might finally be in the mood to pick a book I won’t be able to finish immediately.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
While doing research for this prompt, I discovered that Persuasion was also published posthumously! If I don’t feel like reading The Silmarillion after all, this could be a good option. Especially as there are audiobooks available for free.

If you have any other recommendations on works published after the author passed away, please let me know! I had a lot of difficulty with this one. The few books (outside of these two) that fit the challenge I was either not interested in, or had already read.

a book you meant to read in 2018

Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels #1) by Anne Bishop
I adore Anne Bishop’s The Others series, and have been meaning to branch out into her other works for years. Somehow, that still hasn’t happened. Even though I put this book on countless TBRs in 2018.

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers
Record of a Spaceborn Few was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, and I definitely meant to read it as soon as it was released. However, the paperback was so expensive I simply couldn’t justify it. I finally bought a copy a few weeks back, and am dying to finish the trilogy.

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon
I read The Bone Season, the first book in the series, in 2016 and somehow still haven’t managed to continue it. My inability to keep up with series has become utterly embarrassing. I actually meant to read this in 2016, so it’s safe to say this fits the prompt.

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Last year, I picked up a copy of The Year of the Gadfly because Olive (abookolive on YouTube) recommended it in a video of books similar to The Secret History. That sounds like everything I need in life, yet it’s still sitting on my shelf, unread.

a book set in Scandinavia

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q #1) bu Jussi Adler-Olsen
This is a Danish crime novel that centers around a detective who has been assigned cold cases. It sounds really intriguing! I haven’t read much Scandinavian fiction, even though their mystery and crime novels are quite popular in Belgium.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
If I’m not feeling like reading a crime novel, I could pick up this Swedish dystopian novel instead. I’ve never heard anyone talk about The Unit, but it sounds fascinating. In this setting, women over fifty and men over sixty who are single and childless start living in The Unit, where they slowly start taking part in drug testing and donating organs until their final donation.

a book about someone with a superpower

The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) by Samantha Shannon
I loosely interpreted the ‘superpowers’ in the prompt, and feel like it does fit the world of The Bone Season. I really need to read this book soon. Honestly, I’m out of excuses.

Black Butler vol. 3 by Yana Toboso
The butler in this manga kind of has superpowers, right? Supernatural powers, superpowers, it’s all the same…

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 vol. 3 by Hiromu Arakawa
Alchemists have powers that count as superpowers, right? I’m stretching this here, but I couldn’t care less. I feel like it fits! I’m really enjoying this manga, so I’m taking any excuse to add it to my reading list for the month.

Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I read first?

June reading prompts | monthly random TBR

If you’ve been following my blog for a few months, you’re probably familiar with these posts already. If you’re not, no worries! Here’s what the monthly prompts entail. Every month, I choose 3 or 4 prompts from the Popsugar 2019 reading challenge with a random number generator. This guides my to-read list for the month somewhat, but doesn’t set anything in stone. As a mood reader, this is the perfect way of creating a TBR.

I started off really well with this challenge. The first few months, I always completed my prompts. April was a bit more challenging with the O.W.Ls readathon happening, so I cut myself some slack there. Then came May… I didn’t read all that much in May, and only managed to tick off 1 prompt. I’m not punishing myself for this, however, since there are quite a lot of months left.

Let’s see what June has in store for me!

a book you think should be turned into a movie

Isn’t this quite hard to pick if I haven’t read the book yet? I guess I’ll have to go with first impressions of the cover and synopsis here.

I’ve had a copy of There’s Someone Inside Your House on my shelf for about 2 years now, so it’s high time for me to read it. In my opinion, it fits for this prompt because it’s marketed as similar to Scream Queens, which is already a TV show. I could also pick up Blood for Blood for this challenge, because it’s about a motorcycle race in a world in which the Axis powers won WWII. Perfect movie material! Speaking of WWII, another option I have is The Girl With the Red Balloon. While this is not set during WWII, it does take place in East Berlin in 1988. It’s about a girl who is on a school trip to Berlin, sees a red balloon, takes it, and is transported to East Berlin during the Cold War. I can already envision this scene in a movie.

a book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature

This is such a fun prompt!

I still have a copy of The Priory of the Orange Tree from the library, which I’d like to read soon. It’s an epic fantasy standalone with dragons, so perfect for this challenge. However, I have a lot to read in June already, and Priory is a huge book. I might go for Jurassic Park instead, which I still have never read or watched. A third possibility is Throne of Jade, the second book in the Temeraire series. I started this series a little while ago, and then found the sequel in a used bookshop. It’s a historical fiction series with dragons!

a book with an item of clothing or an accessory on the cover

Honestly, there are so many options on my shelf for this prompt. Having people on the cover is still a very popular thing in cover design, and (luckily) these people happen to be dressed in clothes. Here are just a few options already. I could pick up The School for Good and Evil, which is a middle grade fantasy. Longbourn is also an option. It’s a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of a servant. A manga possibility is We Were There, a contemporary romance. Lastly, I could also go for Changeling, a historical fiction with fantasy elements.


I’ve only picked 3 for June since I managed to complete so little last month, and don’t want to put extra pressure on myself. I’m really happy with the challenges the random number generator picked. They seem like so much fun, and I hope I’ll be able to finish a book for each of them.

Have you read any of these? Which ones should I pick up first? 

May prompts | monthly TBR challenges

I’ve been doing these monthly prompts since January, and I really like it. April wasn’t as successful as the previous months because I participated in a month-long readathon as well, and there’s only so much I can read. This will probably be the case for May as well, but I think it’ll be easier to combine this month’s prompts with the Asian readathon.

If you haven’t read one of these posts before, I use a random number generator to pick 4 prompts from the Popsugar 2019 reading challenge to guide my reading every month. It gives me some direction and push, but doesn’t give me a set TBR (which never really works well for me).

Let’s take a look at the challenges for May!

a book published in 2019

holy sister

Finally an easy challenge! Last month, I received my pre-order of Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence, the third book in the Book of the Ancestor series, and I still haven’t read it. Since the previous two books were on my favorite books of last year list, I can’t wait to read the conclusion to the trilogy. MY FAVORITES BETTER BE OKAY, MARK.

a book written by a musician

every heart a doorway

I had to do some digging for this prompt, not going to lie. I didn’t really feel like reading a biography (although that might change during the month of May) so I felt a bit discouraged here. Then I discovered that Seanan McGuire is a musician, thanks to the lovely Goodreads group dedicated to completing the Popsugar challenge. Every Heart a Doorway has been on my to-read list for a while and it’s quite short so I should be able to read this in May.

a retelling of a classic

I have two options for this prompt! Longbourn is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice told through the eyes of a servant of the Bennet family. I’ve had a copy ever since I read P&P in late 2016, and still haven’t picked it up. This is the perfect time to change that! I might end up listening to The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein instead though, which is available on Scribd. I’m intrigued by this retelling of Frankenstein, but I haven’t heard the best things about the book in reviews…

zodiac sign or astrology term in the title

Another novel that has been sitting on my bookshelf, still unread, for ages is A Thousand Splendid Suns. I’m so intimidated by Khaled Hosseini’s works, and I have no idea why. I need to get over this ridiculous fear I won’t like it, and just pick it up. If I somehow still don’t get to that one, I can pick up Starfish on Scribd instead. I honestly have no idea what this is about, all I remember is that the main character is half-Japanese and has social anxiety.


There you have it, my monthly prompts for May! I think achieving these should be doable, right? I can even read the books for the last prompt for the Asian readathon as well, which is perfect. I’m all for combining challenges. Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I get to first? I’d love to hear your opinion!

March in the life | personal wrap up

As always, I’m making a separate monthly wrap up to discuss the movies and TV shows I watched, the music I listened to, and the things that happened to me in the past month.

what i did black

So, March… It was quite the interesting month!

I started the month off by getting two wisdom teeth extracted, which wasn’t very fun if I’m being honest. I didn’t read or do much in the 10 days following the extraction, which is why I ended up watching so many TV shows last month. Be warned, the next section of this wrap up will be long!

In more exciting news, I got a new job! I started on the 18th, and I’m really happy about it. I was definitely nervous on my first day, but it’s been such a good experience so far. Obviously, it’s time-consuming, and I expect I won’t be watching many shows or reading many books in the coming weeks. That’s okay though. I watched plenty in March…

what i watched black

The only movie I managed to watch in March was Arrival, but it was definitely a hit. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a movie so thoroughly, and it truly took me by surprise. I know people had been screaming about it for years, but I somehow thought it wasn’t one for me. How wrong was I? It was brilliant. A new favorite for sure!

I also watched the entirety of Coffee Prince, which is arguably one of the most famous Korean dramas ever. It has the girl-disguises-as-boy trope we all happen to love, but it’s a tad deeper than most shows that revolve around the topic. I loved this show far more than I expected to -see, there’s a trend here- especially since it’s now about 12 years old. Either way, you can read my full thoughts on the show in my review, here.

I also (finally) started watching La Casa de Papel. This show has been on my Netflix to-watch list for absolute ages! I’ve seen 7 episodes so far, and I’m hooked. Once I start watching, I can’t seem to stop. It’s so intense, and I’m invested in all the characters already. I’ve been putting off continuing the show, because I haven’t had much time the past few weeks, and know that once I start watching, I’ll end up glued to the screen for hours.

 

I also watched Romance is a Bonus Book in March, a Korean drama I’ve quickly fallen in love with. I already knew Lee Jong-suk was one of the most beautiful men ever, but I truly enjoyed his acting in this show. I also loved Lee Na-young in this drama, as she portrayed such a refreshing and fun woman. Truly, Kang Dan-yi is a woman I’d like to be friends with. Thanks to Netflix and the enormous backlist of Asian dramas I want to watch, I haven’t watched a show where I had to wait a week for an episode in ages. I saw this one on Netflix though, and couldn’t resist. All too quickly, I had caught up with the show and had to wait for 2 new episodes every Tuesday. You best believe I binged those ones as soon as I possibly could.

I also watched the Flemish show called De Luizenmoeder, which is an adaptation of the Dutch show of the same name. If you translate the title literally, it makes The Lice Mother. It follows the mothers of a group of elementary school children, and the staff at the school. It’s absolutely hilarious, and I binged it in one weekend. I did watch the Flemish version instead of the original Dutch one, because I am Belgian (and Flemish) so it’s far more relatable for me.

Inbetween all that, I watched season 3 of SKAM France. You may know that I’m a huge fan of the original SKAM, a Norwegian TV show about the lives of a group of teenagers from the same school. I haven’t really been interested in watching the remakes, because I already know the story and think no one can really top the original actors. HOWEVER, I fell into the French remake somehow, and watched the entirety of season 3 – Elliot and Lucas’ story. I love it. They’re the first ones to come close to the original Isak and Even. Sometimes, I can’t even tell who I prefer more. I think they’re incredible actors, especially Axel Auriant – who portrays Lucas/Isak.

Lastly, I watched the entire third season of Queer Eye. Who is surprised? NOT ME. Once again, I love this show. The new season is no exception on that rule. It’s fantastic.

what i listened to black

Ready for the music section? Let’s go!

The Jonas Brothers – Sucker
Who is surprised? NOT ME. You know I’ve been listening to this song on repeat since March 1st, and I’m not apologizing for it. It’s absolutely fantastic. I think it leans more towards the music Joe’s been making with DNCE – and I love it. Can we also talk about the MV? It’s so beautiful, silly, and fun, and I’m so happy all their significant others are in it.

ONEUS – Valkyrie
I finally watched ONEUS’ debut song, Valkyrie, and consequently fell in love with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song in March. It’s an embarrassing amount, for sure.

Jus2 – Focus on Me
GOT7’s music has always been hit or miss for me, but this sub-unit blew me away. I don’t know what I was expecting from a Yugyeom-Jaebum song, but it wasn’t this. It might be my favorite song of them so far? It’s so chill, yet demands your attention. The choreography is amazing, and can we talk about the editing in this video? Damn. I love the smoothness of this song, though, and can listen to it again and again.

MAMAMOO – gogobebe
It’s official, MAMAMOO is my favorite girl group. I love all their music. They’re such incredibly talented women, and I am filled with endless admiration. It’s silly, fun, and catchy.

Stray Kids – MIROH
Listen, Stray Kids is one of my absolute favorite groups. They’ve never had a comeback I didn’t like/love, and Miroh is no exception. I have to admit that I had to listen to it twice when it was first released, because the song is so overwhelming that I didn’t absorb anything on the first listen. Now, it’s been on repeat ever since its release. The entire album is filled with amazing songs though.

BTS – Persona (Comeback Trailer)
I usually don’t fall in love with BTS’ comeback trailers – don’t kill me. However, RM is absolutely fantastic in persona, and I’ve had so much fun diving into the lyrics. I wish this was on Spotify already so I could add it to my playlist.


That’s everything for March! Have you watched any of these shows, or listened to any of these songs? If you have any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear it!

March wrap up | everything I read last month

While I didn’t read as much in March as I did in January and February, I still had a pretty good reading month – aside from that one book, but we’ll talk about it later. As always, I’m sharing the books I managed to finish this month, and what I thought about them.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
As you may know, I’ve been trying to read more graphic novels and manga in the past few months because I truly feel like I’m missing out on some great stories. Last year, I bought a secondhand copy of the first Fullmetal Alchemist volume. I figured it would be a great place to start, because it’s so famous. I absolutely loved it. Actually, I immediately bought volumes 2-7 on better world books… I want to continue the manga first before checking out the anime, because I want to story to surprise me in book-format – if that made sense.

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill.

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
I always feel weird rating nonfiction books. Does anyone else have that issue? Anyway, this is another book I picked up used, and it seemed like an intriguing read. The author, Barbara Demick, is a journalist who made news reports on North Korea for years. For this book, she interviewed 6 North Korean citizens (defectors) and follows their lives over a period of 15 years. This was published in 2009, so before Kim Jong-un became the Supreme Leader. She followed people from the same city, so she could get a clearer view on their lives from a number of different perspectives. It’s such an interesting read! Especially because she addresses that a lot of today’s defectors would return to North Korea if the government fell. They’d want to go back and help their fellow country men assimilate and get back on their feet.

In this landmark addition to the literature of totalitarianism, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick follows the lives of six North Korean citizens over fifteen years–a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il (the father of Kim Jong-un), and a devastating famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
I’ve recently revised my rating of The Cruel Prince. I originally rated it 3.5 stars but rounded it up to 4 on Goodreads. Looking back on it, that was a tad too generous. I had quite some issues with the pacing of the first book, because nothing really happened for the first 80%. I had no such issues with The Wicked King. I love political stories, strategy, and power struggles. This book was right up my alley, and I loved it so much. I can’t wait to read the third book! I’m glad I decided to give the sequel a try, even though I didn’t love the first one.

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – ★★★.₅ or ★★★★
Yes, I’m using an ‘or’ in my rating. I feel so conflicted right now, I don’t know how I feel about this book. For the first 75% of this novel, I was sure it would end up being a 5-star read. I simply loved it! It was adorable, funny, and sweet – and I do love me a soft boy. I was afraid at first that Hazel would become that quirky girl who is just so special, but it really didn’t feel like that. She just seemed genuine and 100% herself the entire time. But the last 25% of this book RUINED it for me. What was that? Why did you have to add one of my most hated tropes? It was NOT necessary at all.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. Their loss. Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air. Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman – ★★ – really didn’t like it
Listen, I only made it through this book because a) Armie Hammer narrates the audiobook and his voice is fantastic, b) I shared the worst moments with some of my lovely friends so I didn’t have to suffer alone, and c) I felt challenged by this book and didn’t want to let it win by DNFing it. I watched this movie in 2017 and absolutely adored it. I HATED THIS BOOK. IT’S THE FUCKING WORST THING I HAVE READ IN A WHILE. I honestly felt violated while reading this. My brain needed to be submerged in bleach to erase the stain of it on my soul. Here’s my review of this novel, so your brain can feel like it need disinfecting too.

Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them.

I Hear the Sunspot Volume 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
I needed to cleanse my soul after finishing the book we shall never mention again, and I Hear the Sunspot seemed like the perfect manga to do so. I read this on MangaRock, which is an app where fans translate manga from the original Japanese. A lot of manga never get translated, so that’s nice. I did find out after finishing this that the first three volumes were recently translated into English and I’ve already bought them all. This was the most wholesome thing I’ve read in a while. It’s the cutest thing. I will scream about this manga forever, until everyone has read it. (Yes, I’m serious. I really will.) Here’s my review of the first three volumes! I manage to explain why I love it in more detail, and don’t give away any spoilers – don’t worry.

Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. He tells Kohei that his hearing loss is not his fault. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever. 

Bye Bye Liberty Volume 1 by Ayuko Hatta – ★★★.₅ – liked it
Bye Bye Liberty was another random MangaRock pick that I ended up liking. It’s a fun manga that follows a girl who has never had a crush nor been in love, and an immensely popular boy. It’s cute and funny, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I also didn’t like how she went from ‘never have had a crush’ to ‘I might be in love with this person’ so soon. This could have been a chance to write about a demiromantic character, and it feels like a missed opportunity somewhat. I’ll probably continue the manga some day, but I’m not in a rush.

I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
I was in a rush to continue this manga, though, and ended up reading it immediately after my purchased volumes came in the mail. I devoured this series, and am so in love with it. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve written a review on the first three volumes that are published in English, which you can find here.

i hear the sunspot 3

I Hear the Sunspot: Limit 1 by Yuki Fumino – ★★★★.₅ – loved it
I didn’t love this as much as the previous two volumes mainly because I think it’s too short. The Japanese chapters that have been published in ‘Limit’ are far more than the ones in here, which is why I assume it’s called Limit 1. I don’t see why they were split up though. I continued reading the rest of the Limit volumes on MangaRock, and can I just say that a) I’m truly in love with this manga, and b) WHAT IS THAT ENDING? YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO ME.


That’s everything I managed to read in March! I barely read anything in the last two weeks of the month, but I think I had a pretty good month nonetheless. Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What did you read in the past month? I’d highly recommend reading I Hear the Sunspot – and avoiding CMBYN.

April prompts | my monthly to-read list

In 2019, I’m using monthly prompts to set a to-read list for myself. If you haven’t read my previous to-read lists for January, February or March, all I do is use a random number generator to pick 3 or 4 prompts from the 2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge. I then try to match the chosen prompts of the month with books on my TBR (both physical and digital) or borrowed books. It works quite well, because it gives me something to focus on, but doesn’t tie me to a specific read.

April’s to-read list will be especially tentative, because I do want to participate in the O.W.Ls/the Magical Readathon which takes place this month. If you want to see what I plan on reading for that, you can do so here. Let’s take a look at the prompts the number generator picked for us this time!

A DEBUT NOVEL

The Blade Itself (First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie
I picked up a beautiful copy of this novel at YALC in 2017, and still haven’t read it. From what I gathered from the synopsis, it follows a barbarian, a nobleman, an inquisitor, and a wizard. Sign me up, beccuase that’s everything I love about fantasy novels.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Another book I picked up at YALC, although this one I bought in 2018. It’s a YA contemporary novel about a girl who was raised in a cult, rebelled, and was punished by the removal of her hands.

a book with a plant in the title or on the cover

Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Someone make me read this immediately. It’s been on my shelf for years, I’ve added it to countless to-read lists, and it was written by one of my favorite fantasy authors. I’m so disappointed in myself for not having read this yet.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
This book has both trees on the cover and in the title! I mentioned it in last month’s to-read list as well, but didn’t manage to pick it up. Under the Udala Trees is set in Nigeria, and was inspired by its folktales and war.

Wintersong (Wintersong #1) by S. Jae-Jones
I’ve had this fantasy novel on my Kindle for a while, but keep putting it off. I was really excited about this book before it was released, but then started hearing not-so-great things from other reviewers. I do want to give it a try though, so I might as well do it in April.

a book featuring an amateur detective

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
Her Every Fear follows a woman called Kate, who switches houses with her cousin in Boston for a while to change her environment. She experiences anxiety and panic attacks regularly, after her ex-boyfriend abducted her and tried to kill her. She figures that changing her environment from London to Boston will do her some good. Shortly after she moves, she finds out that her new neighbor has been murdered and Kate becomes involved in the mystery. That counts as an amateur detective, right?

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
This dual timeline thriller plays out both in 1950 and 2014 at the Idlewild Hall for Unwanted Girls. In 1950, 4 roommates are trading secrets and whispers when one of them disappears. In 2014, journalist Fiona Sheridan discovers that a body has been found during the renovations of the school. She can’t forget that her sister went missing near the Hall 20 years earlier either, so Fiona decides to investigate.

a book revolving around a puzzle or game

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1) by Cixin Liu
I recently made an acquisition request for this book at my local library, and was over the moon when the request was granted. Perfectly in time for this month’s prompt. Apparently, part of this book is about a VR game? I’m not entirely clear on the details of that one, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

The Eight (The Eight #1) by Katherine Neville
This book has been on my Kindle for ages. I bought it because I picked up the second book in this series in a secondhand bookstore by accident. Well, I didn’t buy it by accident, I just wasn’t aware it was part of a series. So I have to read this one first, before I can get to the sequel. I’m curious to see how this one goes, because the main character is a ‘computer expert’ and this novel was written in the 80s…


I’ve got my April to-read list sorted! Like I mentioned, this is a loose TBR especially because the magical readathon is taking place this month too. Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I read and review first?

 

March prompts | my reading challenges for the upcoming month

This might be the post I look forward to writing most every month! If you’re unaware, I’ve started a new way of creating monthly to-read lists I can actually stick to. I use a random number generator to select 3 to 4 prompts of the Popsugar 2019 reading challenge at the start of every month. I then try to match my owned book (physical or digital) to the selected prompts. If I don’t have any that could fit, I’ll check the library or my audiobook subscription service next.

Here are the posts I wrote in January and February! I’m really loving this way of putting together a TBR. I actually manage to stick to them because I don’t set the books in stone.

What will I end up reading in March?

a book you see someone reading in a movie or on TV

When I did my research for this topic, I immediately thought of the Rory Gilmore reading challenge! Rory is often seen reading in Gilmore Girls, and people have put together a list of books she has featured. Now I only have to match my to-read list to hers!

sense and sansibility

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 
This is one of the books Rory Gilmore is seen reading, and it’s the perfect time for me to read another classic. I’ve read quite a few books by Jane Austen, and have enjoyed all of them so far. I’m hoping this will be no exception! I got a copy from the library for this prompt, as I didn’t own any of the books in the challenge yet.

a book written by an author from Asia, Africa or South America

We Were There Vol. 1 by Yuki Obata
I picked this volume of manga up on a whim in a secondhand book haul, and I still haven’t read it. I have no clue what it’s about either. I was intrigued by the premise when I bought it, then promptly forgot it.

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
I’ve never watched the anime nor read the manga, and I’m looking to change that soon! I also bought this secondhand because these volumes aren’t cheap and I’m not sure I’ll end up loving it. I hope I will! I think this will be a quick read, so I might pick this up if I end up not having a lot of time.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
All I know about Under the Udala Trees is that it’s an #ownvoices novel set in Nigeria, based on the country’s folktales and war.

If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman
This seems like a contemporary novel I will end up absolutely loving. It has a plus-size main character and a best friends to lovers trope (I presume) under the cover of fake dating. Everything I absolutely love! The author is from the Philippines.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I’ve had this book on my shelf for so long, and still haven’t read it. For some reason, I find Khaled Hosseini’s works quite intimidating and haven’t been brave enough to give his books a go. I need to change that, starting with the book I actually own a copy of.

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) by Zen Cho
If I put this book on my to-read lists enough, I might actually end up reading this. Someone explain to me why I keep putting it off? I have no idea, because it sounds absolutely epic!

a book by two female authors

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I have no idea what this is about, but I’ve seen this cover everywhere in the past few months and it seems like an interesting mystery/thriller novel!

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
These two authors have co-written two books, and I’m not sure which I’ll end up reading first. Both are available on the audiobook app(s) that I use, so I could choose either. If I’m not mistaken, this one is about women who participate in an ethics study on morality.

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
When this came out a few years ago, everyone in the bookish community seemed to love it. I still haven’t read it! Once again, this is available on the audiobook app(s) I use, so I might choose this as my audiobook of the month.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Christina Lauren is a pseudonym for two authors, making their books the perfect fit for this prompt. I might go with Autoboyography which is available as an audiobook, or I might end up buying one of their new adult contemporaries instead. I’ve been in a romance novel mood lately…

a book that includes a wedding

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh
I’ve had an ebook copy of The Wrath and the Dawn for years, and I still haven’t read it. I know, it’s embarrassing! Especially since so many bookish bloggers and vloggers love this series. For some reason, I’m afraid I won’t like it…

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin
I might reread Game of Thrones in March. I know, ambitious… There’s definitely a wedding in here, although probably not a happy one. The final season of the show will start in April and I’m so not ready because I’m several seasons behind on the show. Maybe I’ll reread this book, or maybe I’ll try to watch multiple seasons worth of the show in one month. Who knows?


There you have it, my monthly prompts for March! I’m really loving this system of picking out a monthly to-read list. It’s not too restricting, but it does push me towards certain books. So far, I’ve been able to fulfill the chosen prompts every month! Have you read any of these books? Which should I pick up first?