May Recap & Mid-Year “Freakout” Tag | 2019

We’re officially done with five months through the year! I finished four books this month, and really enjoyed them. This time last year, I did the mid-year freakout tag, and was thinking that might be a fun thing to do halfway through the year again. It’s the first tag that I’ve done all year!

Becoming by Michelle Obama – April 1st – May 1st
★★★★☆

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – May 20th
★★★☆☆

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – May 21st
★★★★☆

Persepolis: The Story of a Return – May 21st
★★★★☆

And now I have the questions for the Mid-Year “Freakout” Tag!

Best book you’ve read this year?
I think this is going to go to Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, though Daisy Jones & The Six was a pretty high contender as well.

Best sequel you’ve read in 2018? 
In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to?
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence! It’s the third book in the series, so I have to read the second one first before I get to it, but I’m excited to finish out the trilogy.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The only book that I know I’m definitely picking up is Girls of Storm and Shadow, sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. That’s expected in November of 2019.

Biggest disappointment?
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Given that it’s the author’s first novel, I’m excited to see what he does with his next project, but I wanted more from this. I still really liked it though, and I’ve been lucky that everything I’ve read this year so far has been great.

Biggest surprise?
Alice Isn’t Dead! I really enjoyed this book, and it’s always great to find something in my favorite niche genre, which is horror-comedy.

Favorite new to you or debut author?
Most of the things that I read this year are from authors who were new to me, but it was probably Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Newest favorite character?
Ava from The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

Book that made you cry?
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini and both parts of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. These were both so beautiful and heartbreaking.

Book that made you happy?
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel. Not so much because of the content, I just really love him as an author and was excited to read more by him.

Favorite book-to-film adaptation?
I haven’t seen any so far this year.

Favorite post you have done this year?
My first post of the year! I like setting goals (and then not completing them.) It’s a hobby.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?
Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty is beautiful, as is the copy of The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab that I was sent. I’ve been much more intentional about the books that I purchase, especially since I have limited shelf space now.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I’m so glad you asked! These are books that I want to get to by the end of the year. You’ll notice a lot are by authors that I’ve already read books from before.

A Darker Shade of Magic (series) by V.E. Schwab
The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Circe by Madeline Miller
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Thanks so much for reading! I’m excited to see what I get to this month and for the rest of the year.

-Siobhan

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini | Book Review

★★★★★
April 13th

I’ve found that these shorter poetry-style books are very hit or miss for me. This is an extremely short piece by Khalid Hosseini, who famously wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. This is a prayer about the safe travel of refugees, and the reality that these people face as they leave their home in search of something safer.

I found the book incredibly moving and loved the space that it took. The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous, and the formatting allowed for contemplation between short paragraphs. There’s gravity to the situation, and gravity to Hosseini’s words. Each choice is deliberate, and the pacing of the piece is slow and methodical, allowing the reader to digest.

I think this is an incredibly powerful piece. From online reviews that I’ve seen from parents, this is a book that many are reading to their children, which, though heavy in subject matter, is an important topic. I would definitely recommend this, as it provides such important insight into a reality which I wish that no one had to deal with.

-Siobhan

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence | Book Review

★★★★★
April 1st – 6th

This review has been proving difficult to write, and I’m not entirely sure why. I loved this book. I feel like I’ve been looking for a series I can sink my teeth into for such a long time, and this was definitely the start of that.

Nona Grey is a peasant from an unnamed village. Her people gave her to a man who sells children, where she was sold to become a fighter. But along the way something violent occurs and Nona is accused of trying to murder the son of one of the wealthiest men in the country. As she’s about to hang for her crime, she’s saved by Abbess Glass of the Sweet Mercy convent and ushered into training to be a sister.

There’s a lot to unpack here. It’s a high fantasy novel that takes place on a planet which is mostly covered in ice, where only a 50 mile stretch of land is still inhabitable around the equator. The ice is kept at bay by an artificial moon which focuses the heat of a dying star to keep it away. There’s magic and poison and fight sequences and relationships all within this book.

About 100 pages into the story, I realized I was totally hooked. And the best part was that I was hooked without anything really having happened yet. When I’m hooked by the world-building, I know I’m in for a great ride. Red Sister didn’t disappoint in this way, and Lawrence’s writing is absolutely breath-taking, even when he’s just describing the day to day happenings of Nona and her friends.

The full trilogy is out now, and I’ll definitely be continuing in this series.

-Siobhan

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | Book Review

★★★★☆
March 28th – April 1st

I wish I remembered where I was recommended this book. It may have been an algorithm, or a human, or a video, or something, but somewhere I stumbled upon this strange little gem and I’m really glad that I did.

This book is weird, and not the type of thing that I would usually enjoy, mostly because it has romance and love at the base of its motivation.

The story follows Korede, a Nigerian nurse whose sister has killed several men, and had Korede help to pick up the pieces. But when she begins a relationship with the doctor that Korede has feelings for, she begins to question her loyalty to her sister.

I liked the relationship between sisters. I was less interested in the romantic aspect, but the entire plot seemed more based in jealousy that Korede feels for Ayoola.

I was mostly interested in the setting of this one. I don’t know that I’ve ever read another book set in Nigeria, and if I have, it definitely was not in a modern-day setting. I was hoping it would have a bit more humor, and a bit more nuance than it did. It felt very formulaic.

I’d love to read more by this author to see what other relationships they explore in the future, because that’s definitely where Braithwaite’s strengths are.

-Siobhan