The Next Chapter: December 2018 TBR & To-Do

OH MY GOSH, BOOKWORMS AND DRAGONS! Welcome to my last TBR and To-Do list in 2018. Pretty soon it’ll be time for the year-long wrap-ups and 2019 goals posts. But for now, let’s focus on just this month and kick it off right.

 

Books I Hope To Read In December

I’m going to try to keep it light and continue consuming books mostly via digital audiobook from the library. I did get a little overzealous with requesting on NetGalley but I’ve managed to read a few of them so I’ll list the rest and add an audiobook or two I’m hoping to listen to.

 

Other Things I Hope To Do In December

Let. Myself. Relax. I would like to rest for like five minutes. Preferably with wine, but I’ll take what I can get.

I’d like to start posting at least once a week. Even if it’s just my TBR for the week or a random vent session. Idk I feel like I’m neglecting y’all a little? And also I kinda miss blogging that isn’tย Library Programmingย related. (Shameless plug of my library blog ๐Ÿ˜‚)

I’m going to attempt to finish not one butย two knitting projects during this month. So we have a nice comparison, I’ve been working on the same scarf now since October. Of 2016. It’s going to happen!

 

Most Anticipated December Releases

I probably should have added this section before butย ๐Ÿคทย hindsight. Anywho, here are my most anticipated December releases with Goodreads links!

 

What are some of your most anticipated December 2018 releases? Happy reading!

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Turning the Page: November 2018 Wrap Up

This month has really been something, hasn’t it? I’m honestly glad it’s over. Let’s wrap this baby up right so I can start December with a clean slate.

 

Books I Read In November

So, I didn’t add anything to my TBR for November because I went in with the intention of participating in NaNoWriMo and I didn’t want to have to hold myself accountable for too many goals. Nevertheless, I did manage to read so here’s the list of books with ratings that I finished reading during the month of November.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahlย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshiย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Romanov by Nadine Brandes ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›

 

Other Things I Did In November

I wrote a Bookish Soundtrack post for the Monsters of Verity series by Victoria Schwab since I listened to them too quickly to review the books individually. Wrote. For some reason, when I move the link for the playlist into the post, it suddenly can’t find the playlist?

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NaNoWriMo. I wroteย some of my WIP. Then, I realized how little research and plotting and planning I had done, and scrapped the entirety of what I had written to save for after I’ve actually got a clue what I’m writing about. Then, I wroteย some of another WIP that’s been nagging at me a while (we’ll call it WIP2). And then, I realized I need to do research for a couple of the things at the beginning, which really I can’t do until sometime between the middle of December and the beginning of January. And so, basically, here we are at the end of November and I’ve written about 4500 words that’ll be kept until second drafting and a rough outline of what the story will look like on WIP2. WIP1 is a train wreck that needs some ironing before I know what the hell to do with it. The two stories are just SO DIFFERENT though so it’s not like I could merge the projects, even if I wanted to. SIGH

I have started planning for a trip I’ll be taking next December. Next. December. As in 2019. As in literally thirteen months away. Why am I like this?

All of the work things. I honestly have no idea how I got through all of the work things, but they’ve multiplied. Rabbits would be impressed. Related: has anyone got a timeturner they don’t mind parting with? I can pay in research and baked goods.

 

That’s it for me this month, bookworms. What’s something you’ve enjoyed about November?

Audiobook Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Okay so it’s about midnight and I’ve just finished listening to this because “one more chapter” is a thing, even with audiobooks, and so here we are. I can’t let myself sleep without at least letting out some of the thoughts and feelings running through me right now. I will go ahead and add the TW/CWs I noticed and then we can dive right in. As always, if you’ve read the novel and you feel like I should add another one, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the list.

  • Islamophobia
  • Xenophobia
  • Assault
  • Hate crimes
  • There is a scene that I’m not quite sure how to TW/CW for, but if you’ve read it… the scene with the sink? Let me know please.

The characters are all incredibly well developed. Maybe a little less than I would have liked on the B Team, but everyone is three-dimensional and I could have a conversation with any of them. But first and foremost, I love Shirin. I love that Shirin is allowed to be a teenager and a human and make mistakes. I love how she’s allowed to make decisions that hurt other people because she wants to protect other people. I love how she’s so real. She’s so incredibly real and I would not change her for anything.

I also feel like I would be remiss if I don’t point out the fact that it flawlessly demonstrates that no two Muslims are the same because no two humans are the same. This is such an important point that so many people often miss in real life. No minority is a monolith.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is set in a small town in the USA in 2002. That’s around a year after 9/11. As an adult in this community, it’s so easy for me to forget that many of the bloggers I interact with weren’t alive for that or certainly weren’t old enough to understand or remember it. I was about Shirin’s age then and I can only imagine what that would have been like for her. Our experiences would have been totally different. The entire novel is cast from Shirin’s perspective, so we get to see a bit of what 2002 was like for a Muslim girl then. Not that it’s really changed much at all, has it.

The story in this novel is so painful and beautiful and honest. The whole thing flowed incredibly well, with some moments slowing just long enough to make a point before speeding back up. I honestly would have finished this in one go if I hadn’t had a long weekend of cleaning and making up new games with my monsters, which I don’t regret. (Except the cleaning. I always regret the cleaning.) But, getting back to the story… the story itself gripped at me and all of my feelings and I have no idea how I’m to be expected to function tomorrow.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is narrated by Priya Ayyar. I haven’t heard her work previously, but she did a wonderful job bringing this already amazing novel to life with her voice. While she did not change the level of her voice for each of the characters, she did change the attitude with which she spoke, which is so much better in my opinion. Her voice is quite warm and calm and I could have listened to her for hours more.

Honestly, there was no way I wasn’t going to pick this one up and the audiobook hold through the library came at a perfect time. Tahereh Mafi has been a must-read author for me for a while and this book has certainly done a lot to keep it that way.ย A Very Large Expanse of Sea is absolutely stunning. It’s #ownvoices for both Muslim American and hijabi rep. In fact, if you’re an ownvoices reviewer I’d love to link your review here if you’re comfortable with that. I definitely recommend this one for everyone’s TBR and I can not wait to read what she writes next!

Overall, I rateย A Very Large Expanse of Sea 5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it onย Goodreadsย and enjoy it for yourself!

Who are your must-read authors?

ARC Review: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! So, I read Fawkes by Nadine Brandes a few months ago and I let myself sit on the review for a while because I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. Unfortunately, I sat on it for so long that I forgot the details of the book itself and didn’t end up writing a review. However, it did stick with me enough to inspire aย Bookish Soundtrackย and I loved the idea of taking a prominent event or character in history, adding magic and flair, and recreating it in a way that reaches a YA audience.

So, naturally, when I saw that Nadine Brandes applied that premise to one of my favourite historical tales, that of Anastasia and Alexei Romanov, I knew I absolutely had to read it. I was lucky enough to have been approved for a digital galley of the novel throughย NetGalleyย in exchange for this honest review. Let’s get the TW/CWs I noticed out of the way first.

  • mention of a possible suicide attempt (speculative, but detailed)
  • accurate portrayal of Stockholm Syndrome in a secondary character
  • execution style murder

The Romanovs all obviously love each other very much. I love the amount of detail that went into most of them. Unfortunately, I do have to say “most” because while we do interact a bit with each of the family members, it’s hard to tell them apart personality-wise. Especially Olga and Tatiana.

The Bolsheviks were very much developed as a hive mind, with the exception of Zash, Ivan, Yurovsky, and Avdeev. These four alone were given a level of development, which in this case made it more believable. Since the story is told from Anastasia’s point of view, she might have only interacted with a few Bolsheviks enough to be able to develop them further than their status as a Bolshevik soldier.

This excuse cannot be used for her family members though so that bit was a little underwhelming. However, Anastasia and Alexei received a good deal of development and were quite three dimensional by about the middle of the novel. I am happy with the amount of development that went into Anastasia’s father, Nikolai, because while he didn’t have much time on the page, Anastasia’s impression of him makes him as three-dimensional as she is.

Romanov is set in the early 1900s in Russia, as the real-world tale of the Romanov’s does. Except with magic. I love the intricate way we get to understand the way magic works in this world and also how it doesn’t. There are very specific rules and limitations set into place from the beginning of the novel. I do wish that we could have had a little bit more development to the locations themselves? I feel like it would be easy for me to look through the internet and find a good description and/or images for the locations this story takes place in but I really shouldn’t have to. The world-building was sufficient for the story and great for the magic, but not very immersive location-wise.

The actual story inย Romanov kept me reading long after I should have done things like sleep or work on my own NaNoWriMo project. I just couldn’t put it down! There were a few parts where I was confused with where the story was going and it slowed down a little, but for the most part it was full steam ahead. I feel like the ending leaves an opening for imagining what could have happened next, but all of the important threads were tied off by the final page and it’s not cliffhangery at all.

While there is definitely the possibility of more story, I don’t think Nadine Brandes intends to write a sequel. In fact, I kind of hope she doesn’t. The ending ofย Romanov leaves just enough open for hope and possibility to creep in and I think that’s how Anastasia would have wanted it. I definitely enjoyed this one and look forward to seeing what Nadine Brandes comes out with next!

Overall, I rateย Romanov 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it onย Goodreadsย and enjoy it for yourself when it’s released on 7 May 2019!

What’s one of your favourite historical tales or mysteries?

ARC Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

I literally screamed when I was approved for the digital galley of this onย NetGalley. I already know I love Roshani Chokshi’s writing style, but I knewย Theย Gilded Wolves was different from what I’ve read of hers before. I know that writing something different can be quite a challenge and I was definitely interested in seeing how she rose to that challenge. I did note one TW/CW while I was reading, though I did savor this one so I don’t remember any others. I’ll list it and we can dive right into my review!

  • Self harm

The cast of characters kind of reminded me quite a lot of the cast of characters in another heist book I love. It’s not that the characters are basically the same, though a couple are VERY similar to the characters from the other book. For the most part, the characters are all well developed and I really felt like I could have had a conversation with any of them.

I definitely, definitely have a favorite though. I absolutely adore Zofia. The incredible neurodivergent representation she provides brings tears to my eyes. I love how she knows who she is and acknowledges her limitations. I love how she calls out the other characters. She is amazing and I need for her to never change.

The Gilded Wolves is set in 1889 in Paris. This in itself is a tall order, but it’s also alternate universe Paris where Forging (aka a particular sort of magic) exists in a way that’s just realistic enough to be considered possible. The magic is hidden by the Order, a powerful faction of families who guard the artifacts that are thought to inspire magic in humans. It’s really quite intricate and creative and I’m not explaining it very well. However, the world-building itself is just as intricate and beautifully done. The world itself is completely immersive.

The story itself is very interesting. I do love a good heist story, especially when we throw magic and dark forces into the mix! It was gripping enough that I didn’t want to put it down and so magically written that I didn’t want to finish it so very quickly. I savored this one over a couple of weeks, only letting myself read a chapter or so before bed each night and a couple more on days I didn’t work.

The only thing I can say that I dislike about this book is the ending. There is something that happens, that I will not say because it would be a huge spoiler, but I just felt like it was unnecessary for the plot in this novel. Might it be important in a subsequent novel? Perhaps, but I won’t know for quite some time so for now I feel like I’m needlessly emotional. Also, HOLY CLIFFHANGER. I just… There are cliffhangers and then there are CLIFFHANGERS and this novel falls into the latter.

I definitely do look forward to reading the next book in this series. I also look forward to reading more of Roshani Chokshi’s writing because her style is so incredibly beautiful. In fact, I’m currently listening to the audiobook of herย Aru Shah and the End of Time, which is a Middle Grade fantasy novel, and I’m absolutely loving it. I just feel likeย Theย Gilded Wolves deserved a better ending than it got.

Overall, I rateย Theย Gilded Wolvesย 3 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself when it’s released on 15 January 2019!

What are your favourite historical periods to read, either in our universe or an alternate universe?

The Next Chapter: November 2018 TBR & To-Do

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! Blessed Samhain! I’m starting out the month right for once… and it has to be on a month where I have so little planned…. let’s just dive in. ๐Ÿ™‚

Books I Hope To Read In November

Well, I’m going to be completely honest here. I don’t actually plan on reading anything specific. More why on that in a minute. However, there are two I’ll list here with explanations. Shockingly, I did not realize they are both by the same author until after I was a bit into each. This is the level of my exhaustion.ย ๐Ÿ˜‚

Other Things I’m Hoping To Do In November

NaNoWriMo! This is actually why I’m not putting any books on my TBR this month. I’m hoping that I’ll be busy with writing all of the things. I’ll put together something more about my writing later-ish? I’m not going to promise a timeline on that though because ‘time’ is not a concept I’m very familiar with right now.

Work. Work basically owns me right now. I’m simultaneously preparing for November, December, January, and the entirety of summer 2019, all while researching to figure out which graduate school I’m going to apply to. Someone please save me from myself.

 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? What’s your piece about?

Turning the Page: October 2018 Wrap Up

Happy Halloween and blessed Samhain, bookworms and dragons! October has been so long but so short. How? I don’t understand. Anywho, in a fit of insomnia I’ve decided to catch up on wrapping up so here we are.

 

Books I Read In October

Okay, so October was a strong reading month for me. Here’s the list of books I read this month with ratings. The ones with links are the ones I managed to post a review for. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwabย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwabย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvadaย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • These Precious Scars by Emily Suvadaย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • This Cruel Design by Emily Suvadaย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›
  • Deceptions by Kelley Armstrongย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (This book is probably my favourite of the series so far? I kind of regret having made the decision to stop writing reviews for the books in this series, but also TIME. WHAT IS IT? WHERE CAN I FIND SOME?)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkienย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (Okay, I’m not reviewing this one but I listened to the dramatized audiobook meant for radio and just… it was brilliant.)
  • The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Leeย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (I liked this one more than Gentleman’s Guide, which is definitely saying something.)
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turnerย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (I’m finally getting around to slowly listening to the audiobook versions of this series and I’m loving it.)
  • The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sagarย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (This book was AMAZING, but I don’t have time to write a full review. If you like suspense and incredible plot twists and cold case mysteries, READ THIS BOOK!)
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Hanย ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ›ย (I did enjoy this one, but I really liked the movie better? I hope the next one gets adapted. I want it so much!)

 

Other Stuff I Did In October

I participated in the blog tour forย This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada, which was released today. I enjoyed the first novel in the series and this one was even better! Definitely a must read for apocalyptic virus novel lovers out there.

I… honestly don’t remember. I know I did a lot because I feel something resembling productive, but I just… it’s foggy and I’m too tired to think that hard. Mostly, I’ve worked (we’re getting ready for summer 2019 already and I just really wish I could enjoy autumn for a minute first…) and turned my hair into something resembling a mermaid (it’s blue, teal, and purple, though now I can’t remember if that was October or September….).

Anywho, that’s all for this post. Happy reading! ๐Ÿ™‚