September 2022 mid-month wrap up: two weeks full of mysteries

The Latinx Book Bingo starts today!!! Because of that, this is my wrap-up of the first 2 weeks of September. Weirdly, I only wanted to read and watch mystery/thiller books and shows, so that’s what I did and I had a lot of fun doing it.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett (4 stars): At first, I wasn’t sure if the epistolary format was going to work for me, but I ended up getting used to it and enjoying the book. The beginning – which was just correspondence between people involved in the case- wasn’t that fun, but once the interns of the law firm get more involved and we get their theories and commentary on the case, the book got more interesting to me. While the resolution was a bit predictable, I think that was the point, that the reader could solve it. Also, there were still a few details that I didn’t see coming or wasn’t able to figure out.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda (4 stars): I really liked the writing in this book, the tension that was present throughout the story, how atmospheric it was, and the isolated, cold, dark setting. I felt a lot of dread while reading this and there was a strong sense of anticipation, which I appreciated. The ending wasn’t mind-blowing, but I was satisfied with it.

I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (3,5 stars): I appreciate all the research that went into this book, I knew nothing of the Golden State Killer so this was a really interesting read. At the same time, the fact that the events weren’t in chronological order, that the book skipped certain parts, and jump around so much, made following the events that took place, the different victims, and the evidence very difficult. I often felt a bit lost in the first half of the book. The second half which focused on the investigation in the 2010s was a lot easier to read. Still, this was very well-written, the author did a great job of providing an unflinching but compassionate look at the events, and it was a quick read despite the fact that there was so much information to convey.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (3.5 stars): The first half of this was 5 stars and the second was 3 stars. I loved the mystery within the mystery, which it’s told in the first half. It was very reminiscent of Agatha Christie, who I love, it was entertaining, it had compelling characters and an interesting story. Unfortunately, when we switched to the storyline set in modern times, I found it really hard to get invested in that story since I was enjoying the other one so much, I didn’t find the characters as compelling and I guessed the resolution to the “real life” mystery early on. Also, once we finally went back and learned the resolution of the “fictional” mystery, I didn’t feel as invested. Still, overall it was an enjoyable read and I will continue with the series.

As I mentioned, this month my obsession with mysteries and thrillers books, also carried over what I was watching and since this wrap up is shorted than normal I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on what I watched:

Only Murders in the Building – Season 2 (4 stars): Honestly I watch this show because it’s entertaining, it has its funny moments, the characters are easy to root for, and even with people getting murdered, it’s lighthearted. The performances of the entire cast were felt very earnest and the writing was excellent.

I’ll be Gone in the Dark (4.5 stars): I really enjoyed this docuseries, the mix between the story of the Golden State Killer and the story of the author of the book worked better in the documentary than in the book. Also, the documentary followed the chronological order a lot more closely and it had images and graphic representations of places, routes, and timelines, which made the story easier to follow. Moreover, the fact that there were interviews with the victims and detectives added so much depth. Lastly, the fact that they caught the killer while they were filming this, was incredible because it allowed them to give some sort of resolution to the narrative.

The Spinster and the Rake by Eva Devon (3 stars): This sounded like something I would love and I have heard nothing but good things, so I went in with high expectations. But this ended up being just ok for me, I really liked the interactions between the main characters but I didn’t feel invested, and since not a lot happened plot-wise, I was a bit bored reading this.

What are the best and worst books you have read so far this month?

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Latinx Book Bingo 2022 TBR | Latinx Heritage Month 2022

Putting together a tbr for the Latinx Book Bingo is one of my favorite things to do every year and this time it was not an exception. I was trying to pick short books or romances, which I read really fast for this tbr because I want to read one book for each prompt. But adding the page count of all of these books, it’s 4.606 pages in total, which is a bit ambitious because I have a full-time job and a work trip on top of that during the weeks of the readathon. Still, I will try my best.

Are you participating in the Latinx Book Bingo? Have you picked the books for your tbr?

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August 2022 Wrap Up: reading lots of anticipated releases

I had such a good reading month, I didn’t love everything I read but I didn’t dislike any of the books either. Even the 3 stars I would recommend because I had a good time reading them. So I’m counting it as a win!

Here are my (very extensive) thoughts on the books I read this month:

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (4 stars): I really liked this, it made me feel so much dread, there were so many creepy and disturbing things in this book, and the wait for something bad to happen was anxiety-inducing. I appreciated that the two main characters were not idiots or foolishly brave, they were complex, interesting characters. The only thing I had a small issue is that the “chase” at the end dragged a lit bit. 

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (4.5 stars): This was a quick read, it kept me engaged and the ending was really satisfying, which is hard to in short horror books. It wasn’t scary, but there were a few unnerving moments.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (4 stars): This is a quick read and a very interesting book. As always, Silvia Moreno-García manages to include important topics and conversations in this book, I appreciated that it portrayed misogyny and it addressed the way forced labor was performed by indigenous people in Mexico during the nineteenth century. Also, really liked the setting and how atmospheric this was, and the fact that Moreno- García presents us with flawed and complex characters who make the wrong choices and who are not the type of character that appears in novels often. The concept of this, the way it reimages The Island of Doctor Moreau but sets it in Mexico and the twist of that storyline were all incredible. Overall, I really enjoyed this and it kept me interested even if I wish I was a bit more invested in the story while reading it.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (3.5 stars): It took me a long time to get into this, mainly because the main character was so confused in the beginning that it made it hard to connect with him and he changed bodies so often and most of the people that he had to live as were terrible, so I didn’t feel invested in the characters. I even contemplated DNFing this, but after a while, the mystery was so interesting to me that I really wanted to find out what was going on and I ended up feeling invested in the story even if I was not invested in the characters. 

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (4 stars): This book was a good finale for this trilogy, I couldn’t put this down, I found it really entertaining and I loved finding out how everything wrapped up. As always, the world and magic systems in this series are fantastic, it has a super compelling cast of characters, I love the family dynamics and the romance between Catalina and Alessandro was also really good. I wish it was a bit less action-packed, there were mini-action scenes happening all the time because there were like a thousand minor villains and a lot of storylines needed to be wrapped up, but overall I really enjoyed it.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (4 stars): I had such a hard getting into this book because the beginning is confusing and nonsensical but not in a whimsical way, instead in a very dense and scientific way and I just found that to be a bit boring. Nonetheless, a little before the halfway point when the mystery of this world starts to be revealed, I started to really enjoy the story and feel very fascinated by it. The mystery, the different people involved, the history behind what’s going on, all of it is very intriguing and entertaining to read about. After things are revealed to the reader, it was a bit frustrating to see Piranesi stumbling in the dark but he eventually discovers the truth and the story gets even better from there. The speculative elements of the story mixed with a very scientific and philosophical approach to them make the concept feel very unique and interesting.

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (4.5 stars): While it took me a little bit to get into this, I was sold on it once the characters started to interact more about 60 pages in. I loved the characters, seeing them slowly bond and clear up misunderstandings, how much Levi adored Bee, the chemistry and tension between them, and the smutty scenes. The only issue I had with this was the over-the-top ending that seemed like something taken out of an action movie that came out of nowhere.

Don’t Go Baking My Heart by N.G. Peltier (4.5 stars): This is the best representation of the grumpy/sunshine trope I have read. At first, they were a bit frustrating, especially the hero. Still, throughout the book the character development of the two main characters was outstanding and it ended up being really easy to root for them. The chemistry, tension, and slow development of their relationship were all great. Also, the steamy scenes were great.

The Godparent Trap by Rachen Van Dyken (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this. The hero in this book is such a jerk to the heroine, and while he was grieving, she was also grieving and she wasn’t a jerk, and he started being mean to her since before everything happened and the explanation for it didn’t completely work for me. Nonetheless, once he stopped being a jerk, I actually liked the romance, it was really sweet. I also really enjoyed the relationship between the main characters and the two kids, that part was sweet and the way parenthood was depicted felt very realistic. Unfortunately, the steamy scenes weren’t that steamy.

For Butter or Worse by Erin La Rosa (3 stars): This is truly a hate-to-love story, these two characters really hate each other at the beginning and I appreciated that. Nonetheless, while the main characters had a lot of chemistry and I could understand the physical attraction, I felt like they went very quickly and without reason from hating each other to being comfortable and vulnerable with each other, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Also, the very public apologies and grand gestures are not something I like in my romance, and even less so, if it’s done without talking to the other person about the issues first. But beyond all that, I have to admit that I did enjoy the cute and romantic moments and the steamy scenes were good. I also appreciated the anxiety rep, the fake dates and “fake” PDA, and the way this used google searches and tweets, which worked really well to see the reaction of the public to their romance.

An Impossible Impostor by Deanna Raybourn (3.5 stars): It took me a long time to get into this, mainly because there was no mystery for the first half of the book. The mystery mentioned in the synopsis gets solved really quickly and then the real mystery started around the 50% mark. So not a lot happens in the first half. The second half of the book was a lot better, I was interested in the mystery and I liked that the main characters had some personal stakes in it, which I felt was something missing in the previous book in the series. Also, I really liked Veronica and Stoker as always, even if I wanted a bit more Stoker in this book. The final bit with all the angst between them was really good. I’m excited about where their story is going next.

What are the best and worst books you read in August? Was August a good reading month for you?

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80 Book Recommendations for the Latinx Book Bingo | Latinx Heritage Month 2022

My favorite time of the year aka Latinx Heritage Month is almost here, which means the Latinx Book Bingo is coming and it’s time to share some recommendations for all of the people participating and also in general for everyone looking for books by Latinx authors. Just like last year, this year I decided to only include books I have already read in this recommendations post, the only exceptions are the group book and the two recommendations for the prompt “disabled mc” because while I have read a few books with a disabled mc, unfortunately, the representation in them has not been great.

I will link my recommendation posts for previous years, which in most cases included books that I have not read, in case anyone needs more options:

For each one of my recommendations, I’m including the genre, age group (Middle-grade, YA, or adult) and if it fits other prompts besides the one I’m recommending it for. Without further ado, here are my recs:

Set in LATAM

TRANSLATED

CO-AUTHORED


ROMANCE

POETRY OR NOVEL IN VERSE

FOODIE

INDIE

NONFICTION

AFRO-LATINX AUTHOR

GROUP BOOK

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado: YA book. Other prompts: Afro-Latinx author and horror.

HORROR

BANNED

MIDDLE GRADE

JOYFUL

PART OF A SERIES

DISABLED MC

Are you participating in the Latinx Book Bingo? Have you picked the books for your tbr?

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Latinx Book Bingo 2022: Readathon Announcement

Today I’m bringing really exciting news! Latinx heritage month is almost here and I’m really happy to share with you that the Latinx Book Bingo is officially coming back for round five! This year the readathon is going to be hosted by Paola, Cande and me.

THE BINGO

The Latinx book bingo will take place from September 15 to October 15, which is when we celebrate Latinx Heritage Month. The goal of the readathon is to highlight books written by Latinx authors.

The aim of the bingo is to read as many Latinx books as you can, guided by the prompts on the bingo board.  You can also try to get a bingo (read all prompts on a single line or row — you can read horizontally, vertically, and diagonally), but it’s not necessary, we just hope you read some Latinx reads during this month.

GROUP BOOK

This year we are super excited to have a group book, which is Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado, a YA Horror book written by a nonbinary, Afro-Latine author. This book is described as Stranger Things meets Get Out and it’s Sapphic.

Synopsis:

For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention—especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.

Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York’s past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart—or die trying.

OTHER INFO

If you want up-to-date information, or to participate challenges and reading sprints, follow  @LatinxBookBingo  on Twitter or @LatinxBookBingo on Instagram. You can use the #LatinxBookBingo hashtag for all your related tweets and posts and we will be retweeting and sharing on our platforms.

  • We will also do a liveshow on October 16 at 8 pm EST where we will talk about the group book. It will be on Paola’s channel.
  • There will be weekly Instagram challenges, which will be announced on our Instagram account (@LatinxBookBingo)
  • There will be reading sprints every Tuesday during the readathon on Paola’s channel:

I hope you can join us! If you have any questions, please let them in the comments! 

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Books & series that need prequels, sequels or companion novels | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently hosted on That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m usually not someone who wants prequel, sequels or companion novels because I feel like a lot of times they ruin the original story and also a lot of times they are done for financial reasons and not because the story truly needed to be continued, so this list was hard to put together. Nonetheless, I found a few books and series that I would actually like to get continuations for.

The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club Series by Theodora Goss

I know the author has said that she is open to writing more books in this series and I need the publish to let her because while the general storyline comes to a close, some of the individual storylines, especially around one of the main characters, is not wrapped up. Also, I just feel like there are so many more stories that can be told with these characters.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

This is such an interesting concept, a world where cannibalism is the new normal and people are being harvested, and I would love to see another story with different characters exploring a new side of this world.

Rolling in the Deep series by Mira Grant

I’m convinced that this was supposed to have a sequel that never happened because while it closes the story, there’s a final scene that hints at a continuation of the story.While I liked the prequel, I really want a sequel or a companion novel because I want to know what happens next and because the idea of killer mermaids and the way Mira Grant executed are so interested.

Crazy Rich Asians Series by Kevin Kwan

I really enjoyed reading about these ridiculously rich people living in this world of opulence, gossip, appearances, and power, so I would another book set in this world following other characters.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

I want a sequel because I want to know what happened to all the characters, I feel so invested in their stories and while it’s a slice-of-life novel and the ending fits that type of story, I want to keep reading about their lives and see where they end up.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

I think a prequel about how Catherine House came to be and how the experiments started would be really cool. I just think this book has such an interesting setting that it would be a waste to not have more stories set there.

Sal and Gabi series by Carlos Hernandez

I don’t read that much middle grade but I love this series and I really want more stores with these precocious and very endearing characters. Also, the whole concept of other universes and opening holes in the fabric of the universe is so cool, and want more of it.

Brooklyn Brujas Series by Zoraida Córdova

I want Nova’s story, we see him and heard so much about him throughout the series, he is such a complex and compelling character, and his backstory is so sad and heartbreaking, that I would love to learn more about him and see how his storyline would end.

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djéli Clark

I want another story set in this world. I love the 1884 New Orleans setting, the alternative history concept, the inclusion of African Folklore, and the steampunk elements, so I want a companion novel. Also, if it follows the spy nuns that would give it extra points.

What books or series do you think need prequels, sequels or companion novels?

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Books I’ll (probably) never read

I did the anti-tbr tag a couple of years ago and I thought it was such a fun concept but I didn’t want to do the same tag again, which is why I decided to do something a little different. This time I’m going to talk about some books that should sound appealing to me or that sounded appealing at some point (some even made it to my Goodreads shelves), but that I’m not interested in reading anymore and I truly believe that I’ll never read them. 

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

I have heard so many people talk about this book but none of them seemed to have really liked it. Actually, most of them actively disliked it. So even if contemporary romance is one of my favorite genres, I don’t feel any desire to pick this book up because the things people don’t seem to like about this sound like things I will also have issues with. 

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas

I have to confess that I used to love the Throne of Glass series a few years ago and when this book came out I actually added it to my tbr, but after the letdown that was the ACOTAR original trilogy (there was only one good book) and some of the issues I have with Sarah J Maas, I’m no longer interested. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  

This sounds like the exact kind of book I should want to read, SFF with a heavy romance element. But this has never sounded interesting to me and after finding out how long the books are, I decided I could live without reading this popular series. 

Book of Night by Holly Black 

As someone who really enjoyed The Cruel Prince trilogy, I would have probably been interested in reading this if it wasn’t for the terrible reviews it’s getting. Honestly, I haven’t heard a single person say that they liked this book.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary 

While the premise of this book didn’t sound that appealing to me because I’m very picky with second chance romance, I still added it to my tbr because I loved two books by Beth O’Leary in the past and I wanted to read more books by her. But this book has gotten really mixed reviews and some of the things people have mentioned about this in their reviews make me think I wouldn’t enjoy it.

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

This sounds perfect for me, a fantasy romance book that it’s a Hades/Persephone retelling. I actually know so many people who like this book, but the bad reviews have left me with no desire to read it because I feel like I would have issues with a lot of things that people mention. Also, it seems like the series only gets even worse after the first book. do it’s going to be a thank you, next.  

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but unfortunately, I tried to read Daisy Jones and The Six and found it so boring, and since this book doesn’t sound interesting to me and I know that it’s loosely connected to Daisy Jones, I don’t think I’ll ever pick it up. 

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I have been tempted to read this because all of the hype, the truth is that I have a feeling that I wouldn’t enjoy this since a lot of people I trust and that have similar tastes as me, have either thought this was meh or have really disliked it. Also, all of the books in the series are so long that I have no interest in making that time investment in this. 

Do I think I should give one of these books a chance? Which one?

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Recommending backlist books written over 10 years ago | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently hosted on That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week’s topic is  Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago.

For this post, I didn’t take into account classics and most of the books I included are books that I read recently because the books I was reading 10 years ago are mostly YA books, I gave everything 5 or 4 stars back then, and I’m not sure if I would actually enjoy and recommend them if I read them now.

These are the 10 books I chose for this topic:

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews: As soon as I finished this book I knew I had discovered something special, this is the start of probably my favorite series. The world in this book is unique, complex and exciting, the main character is an amazing and captivating, she is flawed but easy to root for. The tension between the main characters is fantastic and it hints at the incredible romance that develops in later books.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: The main strength of this book is on its characters, Fitz is a lovable and captivating protagonist, who is easy to root for. The writing in this is great, the world-building is fascinating and the political intrigue aspect of this book is very cleverly done.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: This is a fun, quick read. It has an amazing main character, strong, compassionate, and a bit too reckless, Mercy is captivating and easy to root for. The other characters and the dynamics between them are interesting and compelling as well. Also, the plot is entertaining and fast-paced, and the writing is good.

The Diviners by Libba Bray: This is the only YA book on the list and the thing I like the most about this book is how atmospheric it is and the really strong creepy vibe. It has great cast of main characters, each one has complicated backstories and brings something unique to the group. Also, the mystery is really intriguing and it’s very well-written.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: This book has a very interesting mystery plot and amazing characters who are intriguing, flawed and fascinating. Also, I appreciated that this book tackles discrimination, violence, and harassment against women that is perpetrated by men who disregarded them as nothing, in a powerful but sensitive way.

Paula by Isabel Allende: This nonfiction book is beautifully written, Isabel Allende wrote this book to her daughter while she was in a come, and her perspective and opinions about life, death, family, and history are so interesting, the way she crafts an emotional and captivating story while being insightful and educational in terms of Chile’s history is outstanding.

News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This is a fascinating and gripping account of a true story, the kidnapping of 10 journalists by Pablo Escobar, and it’s incredibly well written. Garcia Marquez had access to the testimonies of people who were involved one way or another so it’s interesting to get to an inside look at what happened. (also, there’s a Prime Video tv series based on this book coming out soon)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan: This is the type of book that keeps you at the edge of your sit and makes it impossible to stop reading because you just want to know what was happening to Susannah. It’s such an engrossing, honest, and interesting nonfiction book. The first half is a mix between mystery and horror story because they couldn’t figure out what illness she had and then the book becomes slower and more profound during her recovery.

The Viscount who loved me by Julia Quinn: This is a really entertaining hate-to-love romance, with an amazing heroine that you can’t help but love. Also, the banter, chemistry, and the whole relationship between Kate and Antony are outstanding, they are a couple that’s easy to root for.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella: this is the only book on this list that I read a long time ago but I remember loving the references to the twenties, the female friendship between the two main characters, and how many things it made me feel, I laughed and felt secondhand embarrassment by all the silly and ridiculous things that the main character had to do, but I also was near tears with the ending.

What backlist books would you recommend?

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2022 in Movies #5: Persuasion, Hereditary, Doctor Strange and more

It’s time to talk about the movies I have watched recently, 2 of the movies I’m going to talk about I watched as part of the film club I participate in: Hereditary and What Dreams May Come, and the other 3 are 2022 popular releases.

Hereditary: I really enjoyed most of this movie, the story is captivating, it had me at the edge of my seat, it went places I wasn’t expecting, Toni Collette’s performance was outstanding and the visuals are incredible. My only issue with this is that it builds and builds and then the ending came and it wasn’t satisfying enough for me, I was waiting for more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness: I found the whole plot of this revolving around the multiverse really interesting. I really loved the introduction of America Chaves into the MCU, the multiple Doctor Strange were cool, and the storyline with Wanda keeps getting more complex and fascinating the more we see her in different movies and her tv show. I appreciated that there were some horror elements in this, which gives it a different vibe from other Marvel movies. Also, the visual effects in this one were really good. This is a solid superhero movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Persuasion: I understand why people dislike this movie, but honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I’ll admit that the romance in this wasn’t good, the performance of the actor playing Captain Wentworth was so underwhelming and he had zero chemistry with Dakota Johnson, so the angst and passion of the book weren’t there. Still, the reason this wasn’t such a big deal to me is that he didn’t feel like the main character, it was almost like Anne’s story and he was a small side character. 

Moreover, I loved Dakota Johnson’s performance as Anne, I loved how cheeky and funny this was, I enjoyed the fact that the main character broke the fourth wall, and overall, I had a lot of fun watching this.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Jurassic World Dominion: This wasn’t that bad. The whole clone storyline that they decided to include in the new trilogy was really bizarre and unnecessary. But getting over that, the movie is entertaining, there’s a nostalgic element with the return of characters from the old movies and there are dinosaurs. I wasn’t expecting much more than that.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

What Dreams May Come: I re-watched this movie after around 15 years with my film club and the only parts that I remember- which were the different worlds people can create in the afterlife and the depiction of hell- were still there and they were interesting. But beyond that, this was a mess. I hated the way they discussed suicide and people who committed suicide, and the way there were supposed to be punished for eternity. Also, the fact that the kids of the main characters transformed themselves into people of color in the afterlife was a weird choice.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

What was the best movie you watched recently? Have you watched any of the movies I mentioned?

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July 2022 Wrap Up: SFF reads, cozy mysteries and good romances

July was such a good reading month and I’m hoping that it’s a sign that my reading slump is finally going away. Not only did I read a lot in terms of the number of books, I also read a few really long ones and I discovered that reading long books – which is the opposite of what I have been doing- may be what I need to get out this reading slump because it makes me feel more invested in the characters and plot. It’s sonething i’ll take into account going forward.

But without further ado, let’s talk about the books:

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (4 stars): While I liked the first book more than this one, I think this sequel did a good job and continued the story successfully. This is such a thought-provoking sci-fi series, full of political maneuvering and intrigue, clever and interesting characters, and worldbuilding that is complex without being hard to understand. I really appreciated the addition of new pov characters in the second book, it added so much complexity to the story, it allowed an exploration of the different political factions within both the Teixcalaanli Empire and Lsel Station, and it expanded the world so much in comparison to the first book. This sequel includes some interesting discussions about empires and ethics, cultural assimilation vs cultural isolationism, the value of ancestral knowledge and collective memory, power dynamics in romantic relationships and so much more.

A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark (4 stars): I have been slowly making my way through the novellas and short stories in this series this year and while I have always recognized that the world and characters are fantastic, the short format wasn’t working for me. But this full-length novel was SO GOOD. I got to see more of the two elements that I liked from the novellas: the complex and fascinating world and the flawed but easy to root for characters, while getting a longer mystery plot that I could get invested in with more characters involved and with more moving pieces. Even if the reveal wasn’t that surprising, it was still fun to read.

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree (3,5 stars): This was good, but I had heard so many amazing things about it that I went into it expecting too much. I loved the characters and the found family, there was interesting world-building, and I appreciated that it was a cozy fantasy book, but I think I needed a bit more plot-wise. Still, I would read more books set in this world and I will check out other books by this author.

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher (3 stars): I have so many conflicting feelings when it comes to this book. I still think this series is a fun, entertaining and easy-to-read series set in an interesting and complex world. At this point, I’m invested in the characters, so I like seeing how the different characters and relationships evolve. But after the way the last book ended, I thought we would see more of this world and Harry would be more involved with the bigger picture of what’s going on, but it didn’t really happen, there were again only glimpses of that. Because of that, this book feels at points formulaic and repetitive. Honestly, all the plots of the books in this series are starting to feel very similar to me. Lastly, I know these books have a lot of sexism passing for chivalry and hypersexualization of female characters. Nonetheless, this book took it to another level that made me really uncomfortable because there’s hypersexualization of a 17-year-old.

Everything for you by Chloe Liese (4 stars): This is a great grump/ sunshine romance between two professional soccer players who don’t like each other all that much but are forced to be co-captains of their team. I loved the pent-up sexual tension, the amazing chemistry between them and how slowly they started to open up to each other. They shared some very vulnerable moments and they were there for one another, which made their romance believable and realistic. Beyond the main couple, I loved the glimpses we got of the rest of the Bergman family.

I had two minor issues with this: It dragged a tiny little bit in some parts and the love declarations got a bit too cheesy for me at end. but nothing that was a big deal.

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters (4 stars): This book cemented me as a big Martha Waters fan. I have enjoyed all three books in this series so much. This book is a funny, entertaining, and quick read. Both of the main characters were easy to root for, the romance was sweet, without unnecessary conflicts or miscommunication, and there were some good steamy scenes.

How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder (3,5 stars): Honestly, for the first 60%, I actually really enjoyed this and thought it was really entertaining. Nonetheless, this ended up being a lot darker and sadder than I thought it was going to be and the ending was so rushed, they resolved a big issue that was the source of conflict throughout the entire book off the page and that didn’t work for me. (full review)

Just Folking Around by Penny Reid (3,5 stars): This was a quick, fun, steamy read that worked perfectly as my palate cleanser after three long SFF books. I really liked both of the main characters and their dynamic and I can’t wait to read the full-length novel about them.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (4,5 stars): This book is not going to be for everyone, but it worked perfectly for me. It was a charming, quirky and quick read. Seeing a group of old people in a retirement home trying to solve a murder was fun, I liked all the characters, and I was interested in the mystery the entire time. Yes, a lot of convenient things happened but I didn’t care, I still enjoyed the story. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is that I didn’t love the ending, but I didn’t hate it either. Out of the three big reveals right at the end, I only liked one, the other two were kind of random and felt forced.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (4 stars): This was a quick and entertaining book. I continued with the series mostly to see the characters again, they are quirky, funny, sweet and clever and I have so much fun reading about their adventures. I didn’t find the mystery in this book nearly as interesting as the mystery in book 1, because the scope of the mystery was so big (spies, mafia, drug dealers, stolen diamonds) that the story, and especially the ending, felt incredibly unrealistic. But as I mentioned before, I read this for the characters, so I didn’t really mind that much.

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn (3,5 stars): This was better than book 5 but still not as good as the first 4 books in the series. The mystery plot was ok, the problem was that in the first 50% not a lot happened, Veronica and Stoker didn’t uncover too much, everything was left for the last half of the book, and particularly to the last 20%. So the pacing felt weird and the first half dragged a little. Also, I didn’t really guess who the villain was but that may have been because I wasn’t completely invested in the mystery plot. I still enjoyed this because I love Veronica and Stoker and there were some good moments between them. 

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (3,5 stars): The mystery in this was entertaining, and there were so many likely culprits which is always fun. Nonetheless, this is my third Miss Marple book and I was left with the same feeling that I had when I read the other two, I wish Miss Marple showed up more and not only occasionally and at the end when she appears with all the answers to everything, which she pulled out of thin air.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro (4 stars): This wasn’t scary but it had creepy and gross moments and it was a very different take on possession. I appreciated how it discussed the stereotypes around and the dangers of being a young Latina, as well as the roles that religion, sexuality and female friendships play in the lives of young Latinas. My one issue with this book is that some of the dialogue involving the Goddess was kind of corny and that took me out of the story at times.

What are the best and worst books you read in July? Was July a good reading month for you?

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