July was a phenomenal month for me in terms of reading. I cannot remember the last time that I was able to read so many books, and I enjoyed a good chunk of them. Most of the credit for the nineteen books read during these past 31-days can be attributed to multiple read-a-thon events that I participated in. The first one was the #24in48 Readathon, followed by BookTube-A-Thon and the Summer Biannual BiblioThon! These three events allowed me to read eleven books alone. I sincerely hope that the next few months will be just as fruitful for me!
Here is my wrap-up of every book that I read for July. The reviews will consist of short snippets of synopsis, a summary of my thoughts, and then my overall ratings. For books where I have full-sized reviews posted, I’ll just provide the briefest of information. Maybe you can find something awesome to add to your TBRs! 🙂
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This is a YA fantasy book, the first in a series, and it is an #OwnVoices book written by a South Asian woman. A poor girl named Laia, who’s from an oppressed race, is forced to seek out the Resistance when her brother is taken by militia under the guise of treason. Elias, a boy from the privileged life of the oppressors, despises everything that his family and people represent. Circumstances bring them together, altering their lives as they both know it. I’ve written an in-depth review for it here. Aside from spectacular writing and decently developed, imperfect characters, the novel failed in every way that a fantasy novel could fail. But I am intrigued and invested in the characters’ plight, and can’t wait to read the sequel. 3.25/5.
Lost Boy by Christina Henry
This is an adult fantasy, Peter Pan retelling. It’s told from the perspective of a boy named Jamie. We watch him live on an island with a group of other boys who don’t want to grow up. Their leader is a charismatic, magical kid named Peter Pan. But Peter lies. Peter lies and lies until the boy named Jamie goes on to become the man known as Captain Hook. Check out my full review & an interview with the author here. This is a dark story that blew me away. I highly recommend this to fans of dark fantasy narratives, and folks who enjoy adult retelling of your favourite fairy tales. 4.75/5.
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
This is a historical fiction, adult literature novella about a young woman named Jade Yeo. We follow her via journal entries as she navigates through her mid-20s during the 1920s in England. I loved this novella! I rave about it enthusiastically here. But if you’re in the market for an independent and intelligent female protagonist, who isn’t afraid to poke fun at the societal fads, go read it ASAP! This is written by a phenomenal female author who is Malaysian. 5/5.
Black Order (Sigma Force #3) by James Rollins
This is an adult action-adventure novel that’s the third instalment in a lengthy series. When a small temple and neighbouring villages around Mount Everest start showing deadly signs of a contagious illness, the head of Sigma Force embarks to investigate. In a different part of the world, another member of Sigma is working to uncover the mysteries behind a Nazi relic from World War II, which is in fact a very powerful device. This book was the most disappointing addition to the series yet, which says quite a lot since the first two books were marvellous. Check out my thoughts on why here. Overall, I don’t recommend it at all. It also has has scenarios of Nazi sympathising. 2.75/5.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is an urban fantasy stand-alone novel. A guy named Shadow gets out of prison only to learn that his wife has passed away. Unsure about his future, he meets a man known simply as Mr. Wednesday, who ends up taking Shadow along on one hell of a twisted and unimaginable journey. This book is dense, very dense. There are tons of details and an intricately crafted plot that’s brilliantly interwoven with mythology from across the globe. Because all of these things, the book reads very slowly, but I found it very intriguing. 3.25/5.
Devil’s Line Volumes 1-4 by Ryo Hanada (Ongoing)
This is a Japanese seinen, supernatural, crime fiction manga series that is most decidedly not kid-friendly. Set in a very gritty and dark city, the serial focuses on beings called “devils,” who are essentially vampires. In this world, vampires can be punished like normal human criminals for the crimes that they commit (attack humans, etc.). Vampires who have never drank blood from a human are eligible to work along side the police to hunt down other, more dangerous vampires. It has stunning artwork and illustrations, is very fast-paced and absorbing, and some unique twists on the vampire mythos. It’s also sensationally violent. The romance is reminiscent of insta-love, but it’s being further developed with each new volume (so far). Overall rating: 4/5. Vol. 1: 5/5. Vol. 2: 4.25/5. Vol. 3: 5/5 Vol. 4: 4.5/5.
Welcome to Camp Nightmare (Goosebumps #9) by R.L. Stine
This is a middle-grade, horror series. This volume is about a kid who gets dumped at a summer camp by his parents, but he quickly realises that things aren’t as copacetic as he had initially thought. It’s definitely strange and creepy. I was genuinely surprised by how atmospheric the setting was and that ending definitely caught me by surprise. This is one of the better issues in the series so far. 4/5.
Kieli Volume 1: The Dead Sleep in the Wilderness by Yukako Kabei
The first instalment in a supernatural, mystery Japanese light novel series, Kieli follows a young girl of the same name who has the ability to see spirits and supernatural creatures. One day while on school holiday, she encounters a man named Harvey and the spirit of an old soldier who’s inhabited a small radio. Together they embark on a short journey to help a dear friend. You can read my full-review for this extraordinary novel here. I will just take a moment to say that this was exquisitely written and fans of light novels, or supernatural narratives, should experience it. 5/5.
Planetes Omnibus Volume 1 by Makoto Yukimura
A seinen, hard science-fiction Japanese manga series, Planetes follows a small crew of astronauts who are charged with keeping near-Earth’s orbit clean and free of space debris and garbage. We are introduced to each crew member and learn more about them as people, as well as astronauts, in this short serial. I’ll write a full review once I complete the second and final volume, but this was so beautifully phenomenal! The realistic incorporation of astronomy and physics, combined with the very relatable nature of the characters’ personal lives, helps to create a story that is rich in life lessons, emotion, and splendour. 5/5.
Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
This is a Japanese #OwnVoices, magical realism novel written by a woman that consists of three short stories. Each story follows a woman who has some correlated problems in regards to sleep. I go into detail about each story in my spoiler-free review here. The first two stories were very good, but I didn’t care for the third story at all. The magical realism aspects are subtle and complimentary to the themes behind each tale. Overall: 3.5/5
Sakuran: Blossoms Wild by Moyoco Anno
This is a Japanese josei, historical fiction stand-alone manga. Kiyoha is a girl who resides during the Edo Period of Japanese history. As a child, she’s sold to a brothel in the pleasure quarter, Yoshiwara. We watch her grow up within the brothel, as well as get some insight into what life was like for prostitutes during this specific era. I liked some stuff and didn’t care for others. I think with more polishing, it would have been amazing. My review can be found here, if you’re interested in knowing more. Overall, it’s a good read if you like historical fiction, but there are better narratives on the subject out there. 3/5.
ApocalyptiGirl by Andrew MacLean
This is a dystopian stand-alone comic about a girl named Aria and her kitty cat, Jelly Beans. Together they struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world as they try to finagle a means to find their way home. My full-review for this will be going up on Friday, but I liked it. The art is an eclectic mix of different styles, the story is very straightforward and simple, the relationship between Aria and Jelly Beans is so fucking precious. I recommend this if you’re in the market for a relatively normal and easy comic experience. It’s also very short with only 88 pages. 4.25/5.
Tokyo Ghost Volume 1: The Atomic Garden by Rick Remender and Sean Gordon Murphy
This is dystopian, cyberpunk comic series. It revolves around the exploits of two constables that are charged with helping a local gang leader maintain his monopoly on providing a digital fix to literal techno-junkies. My review for this will be going up on Monday. I go into detail (spoiler-free) as to why this was such a colossal fucking disappointment. I will mention here that having a white saviour complex definitely contributed to it. 1/5.
The Mummy Returns: Film Novelization by Max Collins & Stephen Sommers
This is the novelization for the 2001 film, The Mummy Returns, which is one of my favourites of all-time (including The Mummy, of course). The stuff I liked were the dialogue changes and extra scenes. I also immensely relished the use of British language fitting for the time period (early 1930s). But the novel was written atrociously. There was so much wrong with it. My review will be up next week, but know that I was ready to shoot myself in the head. Also, IT COMPLETELY BRUSHED OVER MY FAVOURITE SCENE EVER!!! Um… HELL NAH, BRUH!! 2/5.
Ash by Malinda Lo
This is a YA fantasy retelling of the Cinderella story with a queer (F/F) romance. I freaking adored this book. While the whole book in and of itself was pretty simple, it was just so mesmerising and magical. I’m currently working on a full-review for this as I gather my thoughts together, but if you enjoy fantasy and are a fan of young adult books, then definitely give this book a read. 4.25/5.
The Ghost Next Door (Goosebumps #10) by R.L. Stine
The tenth instalment in the middle-grade horror series, this one is about a girl named Hannah. It’s summer vacation and she’s bored out of her mind. While she’s out and about, Hannah quickly realises that there’s a new neighbour in town, and the boy who moved with them is very peculiar. I didn’t care for this volume. It was so terribly boring and predictable, not to mention it flowed much more slowly compared to its predecessors. 1/5.