what I read in October, a monthly wrap up

Are monthly wrap ups the only posts I’ve been writing for months? Yes, they are. I want to keep you all up-to-date with my reading, even though I’m going through a) one of the busiest periods of my life, and b) an incredibly long and stubborn blogging slump. I’m not in a reading slump at all! I just seem to forget I own a blog, and haven’t wanted to write a post in months. Sorry… I’m hoping that by letting my life take its course and focusing on other things at the moment my passion for it will come back. I don’t want to force it. Either way, here’s what I read in October!

Shortcake Cake vol. 4 by Suu Morishita – ★★★.₅
Like I mentioned in September’s wrap up, while in Tokyo I stayed at a hotel that allowed you to read as much of the manga on their shelves as you wanted. I started the Shortcake Cake manga during summer when I bought the first two volumes. This is a series I enjoy, but don’t love. The art is incredibly cute, the story is sweet, but there isn’t much to make this stand out from other manga.

Anonymous Noise vol. 1 by Ryōko Fukuyama – ★★★.₅
Another one I borrowed from the hotel’s shelves. This is the story of a girl whose best friend moves away/disappears one day, and she grows up looking for him. Then she meets another guy, they write songs together as they grow up, and he disappears too. She’s convinced that they will come back once they hear her voice. This was a fun introduction into the world, but I couldn’t stop cracking up every time she sang. Why is she opening her mouth so wide and why can the entire world hear her? Does she have supernatural lungs??

Shortcake Cake vol. 5 by Suu Morishita – ★★★
Same story as volume 4, to be honest. It was enjoyable but not very memorable. I’m glad I had the chance to read it though! I think I will continue the manga as it gets released because I’m invested now but it’s definitely not a priority purchase.

Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty vol. 1 by Megumi Morino – ★★★
You guessed it, another volume I read while staying at the aforementioned hotel. I didn’t know what to expect from this manga at all. We follow a young guy who doesn’t want to go to university but wants to work instead. His father agrees to let him help with his job in the hopes of dissuading his son. The boy ends up working a part-time job at the mansion on the hill, where he meets the mysterious daughter of the house. While reading, I was afraid this was going into a weird direction with mental illness but then it turned into something supernatural (and not related to mental illness at all) and I was relieved. Once again, will probably continue but not a priority.

Waiting for Spring vol. 1 by Anashin – ★★★★.₅
A manga that has become a priority, however, is Waiting for Spring. I absolutely loved this first volume about a girl who accidentally befriends the popular members of the basketball team at her school. It was funny, adorable, and everything I wanted. I need to buy the volumes so I can continue soon!

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang – ★★★★★
After finishing all that manga, I finally managed to read a novel as well. On the plane home, I finished The Poppy War, which will definitely end up on my favorite reads of the year list. It was brutal, captivating and fantastical, and I can’t believe it took me so long to read it. I want to read the sequel so badly but the paperback isn’t available anywhere… Be aware of all the content warnings for this book, though! There is an extremely brutal scene in here. You can find those content warnings in a lot of Goodreads reviews.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing – ★★★★.₅
I sent in an acquisition request for this book to my local library, and was ecstatic when it was approved and the novel arrived. This is the story of a married couple who like to kill women together. It’s such a fascinating read, especially as we read from the perspective of the husband. How he both loves the “hunt” and abduction, yet hates how scared his daughter needs to be when she goes outside. This book was quite predictable and I wasn’t surprised at any point, yet it didn’t detract from the reading experience at all. I would highly recommend this book if you want to venture into thrillers.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – ★★★.₅
I’m not sure how to rate Descendant of the Crane, to be honest. I really enjoyed reading the book, and sped through it. Clearly, I was captivated by the world, characters, and story. Yet there’s quite a lot about the book I didn’t enjoy. It was very predictable. At times, I knew that a certain action from the main character would end up biting her in the ass in a specific way, and I was always right. Another aspect of the book I didn’t like was how passive the main character is. While I don’t think that every female leader or main character needs to be a sword-wielding assassin or brilliant strategist, I would hope that they at least have some agency throughout their story. I’ll keep it as a 3.5 for now. I’m curious to see what Joan He will write next!


What did you read in October?

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!

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?

June in the life, a personal wrap up

As you may know, every month I write a post on all the movies and TV shows I watched, the music I listened to, and the things I did in the past month. Let’s see what my life in June looked like!

what i watched 19

One of the shows I watched in June was Jinn, the new Arabic Netflix Original. I binge-watched the whole thing, which isn’t that much of a feat since there are only 5 episodes or so. It was a fun time, but I’ve heard quite a lot of criticism on it already. Obviously, it was very dramatic and over the top at times, since it’s a TV show about teenagers. However, I’ve heard people say that the dialogue is really off, and that no one actually talks like that (which is something I would have never noticed, as I cannot speak the language).

I also finished watching La Casa de Papel, in preparation for the new season coming in July. I adore this show. It has become one of my absolute favorites, and I find myself glued to the screen whenever I’m watching it. I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for us next.

I also watched Always Be My Maybe, a new Netflix movie everyone has been loving. It was so cute! I loved Ali Wong in this film, she did such an incredible job at portraying her character. One of my favorite parts of this movie is how important her career is to her, and how she isn’t willing to give that up because of love. It’s such an important message! The only thing that prevented me from giving this 5 stars is Randall Park. I didn’t love his acting, to be honest. At times, it felt like he wasn’t taking this movie seriously? I’m not sure whether that was the point of the character or not, but it made me feel odd.

what i did 19

Buckle up, because June was a wild ride.

The first weekend of June, I traveled to London to see BTS perform at Wembley Stadium. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, if not the best. I can’t even describe it properly. Here’s a little video I took of the crowd!

A week or two later, I also saw Eric Nam in concert in Brussels! He was a fantastic performer. His voice is out of this world, and he’s way funnier than I ever realized.

Lastly, I bought tickets to see Stray Kids in Berlin in August! I can’t wait, as they’re one of my top 3 groups.

In June, I rediscovered my love for dance workouts and pilates. I had to stop doing them for the past two weeks because it’s been more than 30°C in Belgium and my apartment is an oven, but I’m excited to start a workout routine again.

A few days ago, I also watched my little cousin graduate high school. I’m so proud of her!

what i listened to 19

A.C.E – Under Cover
I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I talk about this song in last month’s wrap up? Yes, I did! However, I still can’t stop listening to it and thus it deserved another mention.

ONE OK ROCK – Stand Out Fit In
Last month, Lindsey talked about ONE OK ROCK in her monthly wrap up. Since we usually love similar music, I decided to give them a try. I then continued to fall in love with them and have listened to their latest album on repeat.

Stray Kids – Side Effects
For the first time since falling in love with Stray Kids, I’ve had to listen to one of their songs on repeat before I could really get into it. It’s so different, yet so Stray Kids at the same time. I’m enjoying the song, but have to admit it’s not my favorite comeback so far.

ONE OK ROCK – Eye of the Storm
Like I mentioned before, I’ve been listening to this album on repeat.

Taylor Swift – You Need to Calm Down
I can’t stop singing along to this song! Someone help me!!

JK – Euphoria
I adore this song, but this new version of memories of JK made by the members just kills me.

What did you do in June?

June wrap up, or the month in which I barely read anything

I’ve had such a good reading year so far but June truly broke that lucky streak. I didn’t read much, and the only reason I have more than one book to share with you all today is manga. I’m making July into a no-pressure month when it comes to reading, in the hopes it will make me want to read more. So, what did I actually manage to finish in June?

Walk on Earth a Stranger (Gold Seer #1) by Rae Carson – ★★★.₅ – liked it
This book had been on my shelf for years already. I bought it soon after its release date because I adored the author’s previous series, Girl of Fire and ThornsGold Seer follows Lee (or Leah) Westfall, who has always been able to sense gold around her – a welcome talent during the Gold Rush. Tragic circumstances force her to flee her home in the South and travel west.

I listened to the audiobook of Walk on Earth, which I would highly recommend. The narrator has a slight Southern accent, which adds to the story and Lee’s character. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the comments this book made on slavery and the horrible and disgusting treatment of Native Americans. However, I felt like this book lacked something to work towards. We know that Lee is fleeing, but it never feels like she’s running towards something, if that makes sense. I didn’t know what she was trying to achieve, which made me less invested in the story overall. I will still continue the series, probably on audio as well.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 5 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
Like I mentioned before, Fullmetal Alchemist is the only reason I managed to finish more than one book this past month. I am so in love with this manga already, and I honestly can’t believe I’ve lived for almost 25 years without this story.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 6 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★★ – a new favorite
Volume 6 is my favorite by far at the moment. It delves into the background of the Elric brothers. Instead of just hearing about what happened to them, we get to see them grown up, their relationship with their parents, their reaction to the death of their mother, their alchemist training… It’s devastating, and made me want to roll them up in a blanket to protect them from the world.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 7 by Hiromu Arakawa – ★★★★ – really liked it
While it wasn’t as fantastic as the previous volume, I stilled adored volume 7. I’ve become so attached to Ed and Al! Their teacher has also quickly become one of my favorite characters in the manga.


That’s really all I managed to read in June. I know it’s not that much, but I’m happy I enjoyed all the books I finished. A few months of no-pressure reading is exactly what I need before diving into the NEWTs in August. I need to find my reading mojo again before August starts. Wish me luck!

What did you read in June?