what I read in September, a late wrap up

I’m aware that I haven’t posted anything but a wrap up or tbr since mid-July, and for that I apologize. I mentioned in July that I wouldn’t post much for a while because I’m both overwhelmed with life and have lost some of the blogging magic.

I do want to keep sharing what I read with you all, despite the blogging slump, which is why I’ve been posting wrap ups every month. Let’s ignore my prolonged absence for a bit and talk about the books (manga, really) I managed to read in September.

Shortcake Cake vol. 3 by Suu Morishita – ★★★.₅
I started reading this manga in August, after buying copies of the first two volumes. I quite enjoyed them, but didn’t fall in love with the story or characters. The sentences are chopped up so much that the dialogue doesn’t flow at all. However, the hotel I was staying at in Tokyo was the Manga Art Hotel, and they (obviously) had a ton of manga you could read for free. Shortcake Cake was also available! I decided to continue the manga as I did like the first two volumes. I feel the same way about the third volume as I did the first two though. I like it, but I don’t love it.

Escape Journey vol. 1 by Tanaka Ogeretsu – ★★★★
Escape Journey was also available at aforementioned hotel, and looked pretty interesting. It’s a second-chance m/m romance set in university, which just seemed perfect to me. This could have been a 4.5 or 5 stars if it weren’t for the completely unnecessary rape scene (and the fact it was written by a woman even though it’s an m/m romance). While I would advise you to be careful with the scene I just mentioned if that is triggering to you, I did enjoy this volume overall. It’s very smutty though, so please keep that in mind!

Sweet Blue Flowers vol. 1 (omnibus edition) by Takako Shimura – ★★★★
I went from a smutty m/m romance to a sweet, adorable f/f one with Sweet Blue Flowers. It follows two girls who rekindle their old friendship when they start taking the train to school together every day. While they go to different schools and have their own friend groups, they take the train together every day. It has so many sweet moments, multiple LGBT+ characters and relationships, and I absolutely loved it. The only reason this didn’t receive a higher rating is because I felt like I needed a diagram or chart to keep up with the different characters and their relationships. It became so confusing after a while! Would highly recommend this manga if you haven’t read it already!

That’s it. That’s all I managed to finish in September. I know, I barely read anything! To be fair, I was traveling for almost half the month, and work was crazy right before leaving. I also started taking classes once a week last month which only added to the hectic schedule. I’m quite happy with what I managed to read though. I’m happy to have discovered some more manga.

What did you read in September?

August in the life, a personal wap up of the month

I skipped July’s personal wrap up post, but I’m actually on time for my August post. Am I proud of myself now? Absolutely. If you’re unaware, in these ‘in the life’ posts I talk about the movies and TV shows I watched, the music and podcasts I listened to, and the things I did in the previous month. Let’s get into it.

what i watched 19

I only got around to watching Queer Eye season 4 in August, even though it was released in July. I absolutely loved this season, it might be one of my favorites so far. If you, for whatever reason, haven’t watched Queer Eye yet please go change that immediately.

I also started watching a K-drama called Fight For My Way. So far, I have seen 8 of the 16 episodes, and quite like it. I hope to finish this series in September!

what i did 19

August was quite the month for me! I started it off on an incredibly high note. I went on a trip to Berlin with one of my wonderful friends, and we went to the Stray Kids concert there. It was absolutely epic and indescribable. You best believe I will be buying tickets if they come to Europe again. They are fantastic performers. I will be going on a trip to Seoul and Tokyo with the same friend in September and October, and I can’t wait. I always have a fantastic time with her. We actually had to get up at 3AM on a random Saturday in August to buy tickets to the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo because that’s when the online ticket sale started and they sell out so fast!

August truly centered around rekindling my friendships. After the trip to Berlin, the lovely Alessandra and her boyfriend went on a city trip to Belgium and visited Ghent (where I work). I’m so happy we got to catch up because I truly missed her! I also had a lovely dinner with two of my uni friends, who I hadn’t seen in too long.

As for my family, in August I spent a weekend at my parents’ house, watching their cat while they were on holiday. I truly enjoyed spending a weekend alone in my childhood home. The following weekend, I made a brunch spread for my mom so we could celebrate her birthday together.

In my post where I talk about my absence on this blog, I also mentioned starting a new gym membership. In August, I tried out multiple different group classes aside from the regular workouts and found some I really enjoyed. I took a Zumba class (which I’ll definitely take again), a BodyAttack one (which I’ll also take again but was so hard) and a CrossFit Fundamentals class (which is for “beginners” but nearly killed me and ripped the skin off my hands). I’m having fun discovering the place! I’ve already planned for some more new classes in September.

what i listened to 19

music

SEVENTEEN – Hit
I really didn’t like this song at first, but grew absolutely obsessed with it a few days later. Weird, right? The performance of this song is completely insane. I have a never-ending amount of respect for SEVENTEEN.

ITZY – Icy
I’m really liking Itzy’s songs so far! They are so catchy, and I love the messages behind them. I can’t wait to see what the future brings these girls.

The Rose – RED
Honestly, The Rose never disappoints. Their songs are always epic. I was quite surprised by the tone of this one though. It’s far happier than their previous ones. Can’t wait to see this live at some point.

EVERGLOW – Adios
Does the way they pronounce “au revoir” kind of bother me? Yes. Do I still think this is a bomb song? Absolutely. The MV is pretty amazing too!

ONEWE – Regulus
I. LOVE. THIS. SONG. My love for ONEWE just keeps on growing and growing.

podcast

Mobile

I’ve been listening to Potterless while doing chores this month, and it’s been fantastic. If you haven’t listened to this podcast yet, I’d urge you to give it a go. It’s hosted by Mike Schubert, a 25-year-old man who is reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. He discusses a few chapters per episode, and always invites a Harry Potter fan onto the podcast so they can talk about the chapters together. It’s so much fun! While I adore the HP series and have done so since I was a child, I do acknowledge that it has its faults and problematic parts. This podcast never fails to make me laugh, it’s so funny.


That was my month! How was August for you? Did you do anything fun? Watch any good movies? Listen to some fantastic music? Let me know!

Curse breaker looking for a job | N.E.W.T.s wrap up

The end of August marks the end of the #newtsreadathon2019, a month-long readathon hosted by Book Roast. I love the magical readathons because a) they’re Harry Potter themed, and b) they truly push me to read more or to pick up books that I’ve been putting off for a while.

August was such a fantastic reading month for me! I finished 17 books (and manga) and DNF’ed another one. First, let’s talk about the books I read to pass the NEWTs I need to become a curse breaker.

curse breaker exams

ancient runes

A > Shortcake Cake vol. 1 by Suu Morishita – ★★★.₅
I really enjoyed the introduction to this cute manga. As usual, it’s an incredibly quick read, and you’ll find yourself glued to the pages until you’ve reached the end. While it was an adorable volume and I enjoyed it enough to continue the manga, I don’t like how the sentences are cut across panels. It makes the reading experience a tad choppy.

E > Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin – ★★★
I was quite disappointed by this finale to the Wolf by Wolf duology. I read the first book a few years ago, and remember really liking it. Here are my thoughts in a nutshell: I find the story line itself very fascinating but the way Graudin tried to make it clear to the reader that the characters were German grated on my nerves. I wrote all about it in my mini Goodreads review.

O > The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – ★★.₅
If this wasn’t the disappointment of the month. When I first got this book (4 years ago), everyone was raving about it. The Miniaturist is such a praised novel, and I’d been putting it off for ages. I should’ve just listened to my instincts and unhauled it because this book was a) not what I was expecting based on the synopsis, and b) boring as hell.

arithmancy

A > Shortcake Cake vol. 2 by Suu Morishita – ★★★.₅
After finishing the first volume I immediately continued with this one which resulted in me not remembering where the story of one ends and the other begins. Anyway, just like the first volume it was cute and fun, yet the sentences were way too short.

E > Mango Summer by Agay Llanera – ★★★
I would recommend Mango Summer for those of you looking for a cute adult romance novel. It feels a little bit like reading a romcom set in the Philippines. The pacing of the book was a tad off and I didn’t love the writing, but it was a solid read still.

O > The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud – ★★★★.₅
I bought this one secondhand last year after realizing how much Annemieke loves this author, and figured this readathon was the perfect time to pick it up. I absolutely loved this book. It was so engaging and captivating, and I couldn’t stop reading. What’s truly fascinating about this novel is that it’s partly told in third person and partly in first.

charms and DADA

Charms A > Our Dreams at Dusk vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatani – ★★★★
Another manga volume I breezed through. I really wish I had bought more than just the first one though, because I really enjoyed it. It’s the story of a boy struggling to love and accept the fact that he’s gay. He meets a group of people going through a similar thing. One of the things I loved most about this story is discovering that the author is non-binary (and loves dogs). I’m so happy to support LGBT+ authors and mangaka!

DADA A > Contagion (Contagion #1) by Erin Bowman – ★★★.₅
I got this one from the library, actually. I’ve seen a few people mention it before, and it seemed like an interesting concept. However, I wasn’t fascinated enough to buy my own copy immediately. Imagine my surprise when I spotted it in my local library. It was quite a captivating read. I really enjoyed this YA scifi/horror story, and I’ll definitely read the sequel!

DADA E > Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 5 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★
I truly adore FMA. That’s all I have to say.

other exams I took

care of magical creatures

A > All the Young Dudes – ★★★★.₅
There’s no actual cover for this one because it’s a fanfiction available on AO3. Now, I know what you’re thinking. We’re counting fanfiction now? Honestly, this one is on Goodreads which is the qualifier for the NEWTs but it’s also 526.969 words long. That makes it good enough to go on the list, right? I absolutely adored this fanfic, and it might be one of the best Remus Lupin/Sirius Black stories I’ve ever read.

E > Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller – ★★★★★
Another epic read. I read this in one day. I can’t even describe the rollercoaster ride my emotions were on while devouring this book. Anger, sadness, happiness… I felt it all. If you haven’t read this YA contemporary novel yet, fix that right now. This story is about a Texan girl who is driving hours out of her way to find pills to get an (illegal) abortion, as abortion has become illegal in Texas.

charms and DADA

Charms E > Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 6 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★
I sped through these bind-ups in August even though they’re all 500+ pages.

Charms O > Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 9 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★
I can’t believe I finished this manga in August! I can’t believe it’s over! I wasn’t READY YET.

DADA O > To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – ★★★★
Another library book I really enjoyed. I’d seen some of my favorite bloggers give positive reviews to this YA fantasy centered around a siren who kills princes and a prince who kills sirens. Did I love it? Yes, I really did! It was a fantastic read, and I can’t wait to see what Alexandra Christo will write next.

transfiguration

A > The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by J.Y. Yang – ★★★★.₅
I put off reading this SFF novella for ages which I’m now kicking myself for. It blew my expectations out of the water. If you’re looking for diverse SFF to add to your to-read list, go for the Tensorate series of novellas. I promise they won’t disappoint.

E > Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 7 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅
Like I mentioned before, I flew through this manga in August. I think I read over 2000 pages worth of FMA alone.

O > Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 8 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★
The final 6 volumes of this series were so captivating! It was all came to a close in an epic manner.


That’s it, everything I read in the month of August! I did DNF one book, which was The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison. 20 pages in I knew I wouldn’t like it, so I decided to just let it go.

I managed to pass all the exams needed to become a curse breaker and I’m so proud of myself! I will graduate Hogwarts with an Outstanding in Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Transfiguration as well as an Exceeds Expectations in Care of Magical Creatures. Not a bad resume, in my opinion!

My September to-read list, chosen by the ‘wheel of TBR’

I’ve been obsessed with Codie’s Wheel of TBR videos since the start of the year, in which she lets a wheel she created herself pick prompts that will guide her reading month. I absolutely love this idea but a) am not very crafty and b) don’t have any supplies necessary to make a physical wheel. Instead, I used an online one and filled in 20+ prompts. I chose to spin 7 times because I feel like that’s an amount of reading I can accomplish but could still turn out to be a challenge too.

So what did the wheel (and Inge) pick for me?

Spin 1 – read a classic 

Dracula by Bram Stoker 
Dracula
is the only classic on my physical TBR I haven’t read yet so it became the default pick when the wheel ended on this prompt. Not going to lie, I experienced a moment of utter dread because I haven’t had the best luck with classics but I want to go into this with an open mind. I hope I’ll like it!

Spin 2 – let a friend pick

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang
When the wheel landed on friend pick, I knew I had to ask Inge to pick from either my current library books or my TBR. She chose The Poppy War, which I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I think I’m going to absolutely love it.

Spin 3 – read manga or a graphic novel

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
I saw this one at my local library a week or two ago, and immediately brought it home with me. I’ve heard so many people talk about this sapphic graphic novel, and I can’t wait to read it.

Spin 4 – read your most recent purchase

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3) by Becky Chambers
Actually, my most recent purchases are several Fullmetal Alchemist volumes and The Poppy War, but I’ve already finished FMA and Inge already chose The Poppy War for a previous spin. So I’ll take the book I purchased right before those, which is Record of a Spaceborn Few. I’m looking forward to reading the final book in this epic scifi trilogy.

Spin 5 – read an orange or yellow book (color of the wheel)

The Lost Girls of Rome by Donato Carrisi
The prompt here was to read a book in the color of the wheel this prompt was in. Did that make sense? I couldn’t chose the colors myself so I had no influence over it being orangey-yellow. I picked this one up while on a trip in Naples in 2017, and still haven’t read it. Time to change that.

Spin 6 – Read a book that starts with the letter y

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
I bought The Year of the Gadfly last year after watching abookolive’s video on books that are similar to The Secret History by Donna Tartt. It sounds like everything I’ve ever wanted, and I have no idea why it’s still on my TBR shelf months later.

Spin 7 – pick a book blindfolded

The Girl King (The Girl King #1) by Mimi Yu
Another library book! The Girl King was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, from the moment I learned of its existence in the summer of 2018. However, after it was published I saw a lot of ‘meh’ reviews come in. A lot of people seemed quite disappointed by this book. I’ve lowered my expectations since, but I’m still really looking forward to reading it.


This was so much fun to do! I can see why Codie picks her TBR this way. I hope I’ll be able to read all of these in September, especially as I’m on vacation for a large part of the month. I guess we’ll find out in October, when I post my monthly wrap up!

Have you read any of these books? How do you pick your TBR?

A late July wrap up

I know this post is quite late as we’re already halfway through the month of August, but better late than never. I only read a few things during July thanks to the reading slump I’d been in for a while already. Here’s what I managed to finish!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin – ★★★★★
I had been rereading this since March. I do love this series but I wasn’t feeling motivated to read it whatsoever. Then the #IronThroneReadalong happened, which gave me the push to finish this book. I read along with the group and found so many nuggets and hints to the later events in the story. I annotated my copy as well!

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 3 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★
I’m still on my FMA kick, and I don’t see it ending soon. I am falling in love with all of the characters, one volume at a time.

Fullmetal Alchemist 3-in-1 edition vol. 4 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★.₅
I’m powering through this manga! Pretty soon I’ll have nothing left to read… I’m both excited to find out how it will end and sad that it will come to a close soon.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – ★★★
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and I was over the moon when I got accepted for a review copy on Netgalley. I’ve already reviewed it as well. I enjoyed it, but found it nowhere near as epic as her previous novel, The Kiss Quotient.

Twelve Kings (Song of the Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu – ★★★.₅
I loved the world, characters and history of this fantasy novel, but was disappointed by the pacing and writing. I’ve summarized my thoughts on Goodreads, as I’ve taken a break from posting. I would still recommend this book, and I’ll definitely continue the series, but I have to admit I was expecting more from this SFF novel.


That’s all I read during the month of July! I apologize for the late post and the very short thoughts on each book. As I mentioned in my ‘taking a break’ post, I haven’t felt very inspired to write here. However, I still wanted to share my July reads with you. I also want to put up my July in the life post in the coming week so I can chat to you all about what I watched, listened to, and did in the last month.

How was your month? Did you read any good books?

I won’t be posting much in the coming weeks…

I’ve finally accepted the fact that a) I’m in a blogging slump, and b) I can’t seem to fit it into my life at the moment. There’s only so much we can all do in a day, or even a week, which means something always has to give. At the moment, I want to focus on doing a good job at work (which takes up about 40 hours a week), spending time with my family and friends, traveling, and working out.

You read it. Working out. I’m really dedicated to becoming healthier and stronger, and I’m finally in a good mindset on fitness. Before, it always used to be about appearance for me which soured every workout I did. Now, it’s about being strong and healthy. I just became a member at a gym close to work, and I’ll be going for the first time tomorrow. I want to dedicate time to working out and having fun with that around 3 times a week, which means I’ll probably only get home at 9 PM.

I wanted to warn you all before you started questioning my absence here. I will still post whenever I can or when I feel inspired, but it will be far less frequently. This might change in a few weeks or months if I get a bout if inspiration, you never know!

Like I said, something’s always got to give. At the moment, it’s this blog for me. I won’t disappear! I’ll just be in the background for a while. I’ll still participate in things like the N.E.W.Ts readathon, but I haven’t figured out whether I’ll post updates here or simply on Twitter. Guess we’ll find out soon 🙂

review: the bride test

the bride testTitle: The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang
Published in 2019 by Atlantic Books
Genre: Romance (adult)
Rating: ★★★ – it was okay

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

my thoughts on june 19

I went into this book with high expectations because I absolutely adored Helen Hoang’s previous novel, The Kiss Quotient. Getting approved for this book on Netgalley was such a joyous moment, not only because it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year but also because being an international reader on Netgalley at the moment is rough.

Unfortunately, I didn’t love The Bride Test nearly as much as I did The Kiss Quotient and I’ll get into the reasons why today.

First, let’s discuss what I liked about the novel.

The autism representation is one of my favorite aspects of Helen Hoang’s novels. It is #ownvoices in that regard as well. Both The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test have main characters who are neurodiverse. Khai is autistic, like Stella is in the previous novel. While both are autistic, I think the author does a fantastic job at showing that people experience autism in extremely different ways. Khai can’t handle light touch, as it causes him physical pain. He’s not great with touch in general, and needs warning beforehand so he can prepare. I love that the main characters communicate on this, and that Khai tells Esme what he needs and what she can’t do. It’s so important to have a proper discussion, and I’m glad that happened.

Another aspect of the book I adored was the importance of family. I love a good family in novels because I feel that for a lot of people, family is one of the most important parts of life. Khai’s family is so wonderful and supportive, even though his mom went to Vietnam to find a wife for him… In Esme’s life, family is equally (if not even more) important. Her mom, grandmother, and daughter are her entire life and she wants to give them the world.

Lastly, I also really loved Esme’s story. She moves to the US for two months, and has to adapt to living in an entirely different country and culture. Helen Hoang shows the difficulties of that experience through small things like not noticing the smell of fish sauce, startling at the lack of a garbage smell, etc. Esme’s story line is about making your own path in life, and not letting the opportunities you get pass you by. I absolutely loved it.

[Something I forgot to mention before posting this review this morning… I really appreciated how the first sex scene unfolded between these two characters. While it was intensely awkward to read about and I was suffering from secondhand embarrassment the entire time, it was so real. It wasn’t “perfect” like it so often is in romance novels.]

Unfortunately, it’s time to move on to the aspects I didn’t like.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t read a lot of adult romance novels lately, but I was caught off guard by some things in this book. Like the neverending references to Khai’s dick. I’m not even kidding. I can’t tell you how many (terrible) euphemisms I had to endure. In the first 20% of the novel, it’s on almost every page. EVERY PAGE has a reference to his genitals, and I’m tired. I’m also side-eyeing the author for the incredible unsubtle ways of telling the reader that he is… well-endowed. Why did I need to know that??

The sex scene at about 85% of the way through the ARC also made me incredibly uncomfortable. If you’ve read the book, please talk to me about this.

I was also irritated by what I started to call Esme’s absolute idiot moments. Throughout the novel, Helen Hoang tells us that Esme is quite smart through different ways, for example the test she takes at the end of the novel. However, those are all things told to the reader. What we are shown, is the complete opposite. She knows Khai’s mom is rich because of her clothes, bag, restaurant, etc. And while Khai doesn’t live in a villa, he doesn’t hesitate to spend money on things he deems worthy of it – like his car. So why does Esme constantly remind us that she doesn’t understand why everyone thinks Khai is rich? It just makes no sense to me. It’s these small things that undermined what the other told us about Esme.

Lastly, I can’t help but wish they had the conversation about Khai being autistic earlier. They bring Esme to the US for him, make her move in with him, and never tell her about it. It makes absolutely no sense to me? Obviously, if they want her to win his heart wouldn’t it be easier if she knew what not to do at the very start? That way, she would never do something that causes him pain or discomfort. Instead, they let her blunder around, causing both of the characters pain. It makes no sense to me.


While I enjoyed quite a few aspects of this novel, I was a tad disappointed by the overall reading experience. I still adore Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient, and will continue to read the novels she releases. This one simply wasn’t it for me.

Have you read The Bride Test? What did you think of it?