Bula, chums! Welcome to another monthly wrap-up. June was such a fun month! I only DNF’d one book and most of my other reads were quite pleasant! Additionally, I have found a brand-new title to toss on to my Best Books of 2019 list that shall be coming out at the end of the year, and along with it a new family member to my favourite authors (possibly even auto-buy authors) list. I mean, her debut was just so damn good. But I shall gush about that in my review of her novel, which shall go live at the end of the week. Please, keep an eye out for it, especially if you are a fan of narratives akin to Japanese literature.
While I didn’t reach my goal of reading seventeen books, I came rather close to it with fourteen and that makes me feel content. July is the month of my most-anticipated bookish event—the Iron-Tome-A-Thon: Adult Fantasy Readathon—and I’m so fucking ecstatic to start that up (by the time this post goes live, I’ll probably have began my shenanigans, who are we kidding?). Fantasy books will be my sole focus for the next four and a half weeks. If you’re a fan of the genre, then you can look forward to many fantasy book reviews heading out throughout the month.
Alrighty, that does it for my introductory prattling. Everything shall be broken up into categories (manga, novels, research materials) and have any relative links (GoodReads, reviews, etc.). Reviews for most of the books that I have read this month and also a couple from May shall start going out in July, if they aren’t already live. The only books I won’t be reviewing on this list are the ones that I DNF’d and any used for research purposes.
Golden Kamuy Volumes 7, 8, 9 by Satoru Noda
Golden Kamuy is a seinen, Japanese-style Western manga about a soldier, an Ainu girl, and a convict who join forces to trace an incredible treasure that can only be located via a wholly disturbing and grotesque manner. I cannot express in coherent words how much I fucking adore this series! It just gets better and better, and creepier and creepier, and weirder and weirder—so basically everything I fucking gush over. Also, it’s so fucking savage!!!! My first impressions do a whole lot of this gushing that I speak of. Have I mentioned that Satoru Noda has become one of my fave mangaka? Because damn, that’s some talent right there. 5/5 for all three volumes.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Good Omens is a British satirical novel about the end of the world, plain and simple. Except, it’s far from being that simple, and is one-hundred-percent fucking brilliant. If you enjoy dry, British humour at its absolute finest, and can have an open-minded sense of humour when it comes to Biblical things, then definitely grab this book. 4.25/5.
A Quick Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson
This is a non-fiction reference booklet that gives you the most basic of rundowns on what They/Them pronouns mean and how to be more aware about gendered conversation. It’s good if you want the bare minimum understanding. However, beyond that, it’s a bit hollow. It’s not directed towards educating people who are essentially choosing to be jerks because they’re close-minded (putting it nicely). The encounter examples also don’t include anything inherently negative. It’s set in a sort of Utopia where everyone is willing to learn and be accepting, which isn’t the reality, unfortunately. 3/5
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The Last Time I Lied is a mystery thriller about a woman who’s spent most of her life struggling with a tragedy from her tees years when her cabin mates at a summer camp disappeared into the night without a trace. I wasn’t expecting to like this, and I ended up loving it! It was such a fantastic slow-burn mystery and did a good job of keeping me guessing. The culprit(s) and certain revelations were slightly predictable, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. Full, spoiler-free review will be up in a few hours.
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
The Gauntlet is an #OwnVoices Islamic, Southwest Asian middle-grade fantasy novel about a girl who receives a board game for her birthday that sucks her brother into it. Together with a couple of her best friends, she embarks on a journey to finish the game and save her family from gloom and doom. You may recognise this as I read it in May. Something about it made me want to re-read it this month, and honestly, my second time with it was much better. It left me feeling very nostalgic and I think it’s excellent for young middle-grade POC and Muslim kids to read. Full, spoiler-free review shall be up later this week.
Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler
Storm Glass is the first instalment in a fantasy series about two girls from very different backgrounds who end up going through some unexpected experiences, which brings them together in a world where wealthy cities float above the poverty-stricken slums. Okay, real-talk, this book was a massive disappointment to me. It had so much potential, yet the plot was paper thin and its execution excruciatingly drawn-out. My first impressions had good hopes for it, but they didn’t amount to much. My full, spoiler-free review shall go live later this week, which will detail where things became iffy.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
An Enchantment of Ravens is a young adult fantasy novel about a young woman, Isobel, whose craft is painting portraits for the fair folk—magical beings who are incapable of human emotions and barter with tricks and magic in exchange for experiencing human craft. When she gets a chance to paint a portrait for a prince who hasn’t been seen in decades, her entire world gets turned upside down in a deadly manner. For a debut novel, this wasn’t bad. It was far from perfect with a couple of clichés and a weird romance; however the world-building makes up for most of its shortcomings. Full review shall be making its appearance next week.
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan
Rainbirds is a contemporary surrealist fiction novel authored by an Indonesian-born Singaporean author and takes place in a fictitious city in Japan. It’s about Ren Ishida who goes to Akakawa after learning about his sister’s brutal death. While there, he realises his sister wasn’t the person he’s always known. I have never read a book about Japanese characters, set in Japan by a non-Japanese author that I’ve liked. It’s always disrespectful or offensive in one way or another; worse, it’ll follows harmful stereotypes. But, Rainbirds is one of the finest pieces of fiction I have read all year long. I am astounded that this is the author’s debut novel. Her prose is so similar to Hiromi Kawakami (Strange Weather in Tokyo) and Yōko Ogawa (Revenge, Hotel Iris), who are some of my favourite authors of all-time (the book has been compared to Haruki Murakami but let me just say: hell no). I can’t wait to talk about this novel with y’all. My spoiler-free review shall be up on Friday and you won’t want to miss it!!! Also, please note, this isn’t Japanese literature as it’s not authored by a Japanese person. It’s more appropriate to label it as Asian literature, or a book about Japan, and yes there is a major difference!!
The Anomaly by Michael Rutger
The Anomaly is a fiction novel that is about a bunch of YouTube dude-bros who go hunting for a grand adventure in order to spike ratings in an effort to salvage the damage done via other failed ventures. I hated this book. I hated the characters, I hated the premise, which was vastly different than advertised. I won’t be reviewing it, but you can catch my musings on why I DNF’d it here. Since it was a DNF, no rating.
Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, & Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid by Wendy Williams
Kraken is a non-fiction, scientific reference novel that talks about the history of squids and octopi, specifically their history with scientists. This wasn’t a bad book at all! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it did provide me with some interesting information about cephalopods and their journey within scientific research and discovery as it pertains to them, as well as how important they are to understanding humans–our past and future. 3/5
Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods by Danna Staff
Squid Empire is a non-fiction, scientific reference novel that focuses on the history of cephalopods and centring on their evolution, physiology, various species and subspecies, and more. This was exactly what I was searching for. It has detailed yet succinct and easy-to-understand information about cephalopods, the different classes, which ones have gone extinct and which ones are still around, how they evolved, and much, much more. It was super informative and rather engaging. I read it pretty quickly too, and I recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about these phenomenal ocean dwellers. 4.25/5
Creatures of the Deep: In Search of the Sea’s ‘Monsters’ and the World They Live In by Erich Hoyt
Creatures of the Deep is another non-fiction, scientific reference novel that takes a look at the different depths of the ocean, exploring the types of animals that reside and survive at these various depths, while providing anecdotes on the history of deep-sea diving and discovery. I loved it. It provided me with just the sort of information I was searching for with regard to oceanic depths, ecology, and much more. 4.25/5
For anyone who may be curious, I shall be discussing the books used for research in a Writer’s Retreat Update post. Hopefully that will go live sometime during this week or next week at the latest. While I won’t be doing in-depth reviews of those titles, I will chat about how they’ve helped me as an aspiring author.
With that, I am officially wrapping up June’s reading theatrics! If you’ve read any of the books mentioned above, or if they sound interesting to you, please drop me a comment! I’d love to hear from you. ♥
Thank you so much for visiting me today. I appreciate the support! Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing.
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