I knew that July would be a semi-slumpy month. And that’s okay. It followed me binge-reading nearly a book a day for two months for my book club’s semi-annual team game. I needed a break. I wrapped my impulsive Murderbot reread and then I read a book that took me a damn month to read (it was five-stars), which took my July TBR and shot it directly into the sun.
I did read a lot of shorter comics and graphic novels!
And got caught up on Lore Olympus and The Remarried Empress on Webtoon. There are so many comics I want to read on that site and I rarely seem to have time. But I had a huge wave of super early morning anxiety, and Webtoon is my anxiety insomnia treat (it’s not a cure, but it helps).
The great thing about this month is that I got my writing mojo back. Not sure how long it’s going to last or what, but I wrote two short stories and one novel. Yes. A novel. Not the one I need to write or the one that I have been writing. It’s a first draft and super short at 62k words, but I tend to write short and edit long, which means when I eventually get to editing this messy girl it’ll probably be closer to 70k.
Anywho, I read 16 books for July: 7 books and 9 audiobooks, for 4,952 pages. Which *seems* like a lot of books (and yes, it is) but most were under 250 pages.
Okay, so this was the book that took me nearly a month to read. Normally, after a week of making no progress I would DNF, but I was determined to get into it, knowing that my disinterest was not because the book was bad but because my mood wasn’t quite right. And despite everything stacked up against, it, I ended up reading the last 50% in two days and loving it. I definitely recommend The Final Strife. It’s fantastic epic fantasy with a lot of grit and heart.
Speaking of a lot of grit, I read How the Word is Passed and it was so good. Definitely a must read for all Americans, particularly white Americans. Smith talks a lot about history and how “history” is told and warped to provide narratives that make white Americans feel better and connected, while actively sidelining and undermining Black Americans and other Americans of color and their stories. The importance of telling history, of using all the available facts, of focusing on honoring memory while actively fighting nostalgia.
And, of course, I finished my reread of The Murderbot Diaries. I loved them even more than I did the first time around. I actually hadn’t meant to reread all five novellas and the book. I had intended to stop at the second, but like our favorite binge-watching robot, I needed to consume media that made me happy and relaxed, and this hit the spot.
Somehow, I read a total of four nonfiction books this month. Yes, I don’t know either. However, I finally read Sapiens, which was good but also was more focused on modern humanity than I thought it would be? For some reason, my brain completely skilled over the subtitle that would have told me everything and decided this was a book purely about early humans. I was wrong, and that fed into some of my disappointment, I think.
Fresh Banana Leaves is a book where I give it five stars for the knowledge it contains, and minus a star because holy fuck did the publisher do Hernandez dirty on the editing. So much information was repeated time and time again, sometimes within the same paragraph, not just across the various essays. A simple pass by an editor would have streamlined and corrected this and made this book so much stronger (it is already powerful).
Roll With It was a really cute story about a girl with cerebral palsy navigating a new school, her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s, having friends for the first time, being a “trailer park kid,” and winning a baking competition. This seems like a lot (and it is), but life is also a lot and Sumner made it feel natural instead of compressed.
See You Yesterday has one of my favorite tropes that I also tend to really get annoyed by—the time loop trope. I love time loop tropes, but they are so hard to do well. And this one was really good! It kinda gave me Palm Springs vibes but without a lot of the killing and hunting people aspect of things. As a time loop book, this was one of the better ones.
I also finally read Passing, an absolute classic. Sadly, I don’t remember a whole bunch other than it was a deft and deep exploration of race in American in the 1920s. Two women cross the color line and pass as white—one whenever it suits her, the other changing her entire life to pass. When Clare returns to Irene’s life, however, things start to get…strange.
The Book Eaters was good. If I hadn’t been in such a weird reading mood, I probably would have read it faster and enjoyed it a lot more. As it was, I liked it, it was definitely a 4-star read, but I felt like I had read this book before despite it having a unique premise. Perhaps it was the mother-will-do-anything-for-her-kid aspect of the plot. Perhaps it was because it was set in Great Britain, and for some reason weird books about book oddities set in Great Britain reminds me of Thursday Next, even though the two books are not similar. Regardless, despite my ho-hum review, this was a good book to read!
Now we have two books that started strong and fizzled completely out by the end. The Lost Summers of Newport would have been good with like, two of the plotlines. But three? Ehhhh. No. The twists were glaringly obvious, the character development was bland, and I finished only because this was an audiobook and I wanted to see if my assumptions were correct.
Likewise with The Hacienda, which I wanted to love more than I did. But it was less Mexican Gothic and more The Death of Jane Lawrence, in that its absolute batshit final third was absolute batshit wtf I don’t care anymore instead of holy shit holy shit holy shit. It was another book where I did not need two POVs. One would have been enough.
Corsets and Codpieces was a book I have had on my tbr for quite some time, as I do like reading about clothing history occasionally. However, this was less outrageous fashion and more documenting (male) outrage of various fashions throughout history, with little introspection onto why the fashion became so outrageous in the first place. It was also very England-centric, and I really don’t care about boring English fashion.
And for the big shocker of the month: I read another Scarlett St Clair book! Yes. After the absolute horrific shitshow of King of Battle and Blood, which is one of the worst books I have ever read (and which inspired me to write my own erotic fantasy, which was not the book I finished this month but the one where I am 34k words deep), I swore never again. And yet my brain said I needed something sexy and trashy, and also I wanted a Hades/Persephone story because Lore Olympus, and this was available at the library so I read this. And I did not hate it? I won’t read the rest of the series, but this overall was not awful.