I feel like expressing awe at how fast 2021 is going is the way I could start every single wrap up this year. But truly, it’s going so fast! We are practically in fall now, I see pumpkin-related things popping up everywhere now as well as fall colors in decor at the stores.
Work was quite busy this month as well but it did get a bit better in terms of stress levels. I think things will stay busy for the rest of the year but nothing I can’t handle! There are cool projects coming up so that will also be something I’ll be looking forward to.
In terms of books I managed to finish reading 8 books!
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: This was a super powerful and amazing book. Stevenson writes about his experiences working as a lawyer for people who have been sentenced to serve life in prison or given capital punishment. We follow the lives of people who were wrongly convicted as well as those who were given awfully harsh punishments that were not proportional to the crime they committed. Overall, amazing, highly recommend.
A Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose: I listened to this audiobook on a whim and it was fine. This is a thriller that deals with a man who is accused of murdering his mistress and ends up being represented by his wife who is a fairly famous defense attorney. Reading this right after Just Mercy was not what I had planned and it was unfortunate for this book. I couldn’t have much sympathy for the characters even though I’ll admit that I couldn’t stop listening to see what twists and turns would happen next.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: Changing gears a bit I read this young adult fantasy book, a sequel to Children of Blood and Bone. It was cool being back in this magical world based on African mythology and seeing how the magic system evolved. I was a bit disappointed in the characters’ decisions and motivations but it was a fun read nonetheless.
An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn: Next I hopped over to a romance, again continuing the Bridgerton series! This time we followed Benedict’s story in a sort of Cinderella inspired twist. I can’t say that this was my favorite so far, it felt a bit meh but what saved it for me was all the interactions with the rest of the Bridgerton family. That’s where the real love was and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.
Hunger by Roxane Gay: This book was the pick for one of my book clubs and I actually listened to the audiobook. This was narrated by Roxane Gay herself and it was so powerful and emotionally difficult to hear. However, it is a very valuable perspective about living as a black fat woman in the United States. Gay tells the story of her life but also gives us her perspective on what society and popular media have contributed to how we view fat bodies. Highly recommend it!
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki: I’ve been dipping my toe into learning more about meditation for the past couple of years and this book really helped me learn a lot about a way to approach this education without letting my desire to learn cloud the actual meditation (if that makes any sense.) I’ll definitely be reading a couple of these talks from time to time as I continue my journey into meditation.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto: This book was so much fun! Murder, weddings, aunties, an ex! There was a lot going on in this book and it was just a riot reading about all the shenanigans that the characters got into. If you’re looking for a fun light read, this is the one!
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I finally finished it! This collection of comics is only Volume 1 of 3 and I loved it! There were for sure some sections that were difficult to read, either because they were super violent or psychologically intense, but overall it was all very immersive. I am in awe at how Gaiman constructs his stories and I can’t wait to read Vol 2.
There was also technically the book about aliens…. but it was just not good at all so I didn’t even dedicate a review to it because I did not deem it worth that. So I guess technically I read nine books but I’d just as soon forget I read that last one XD. Other than that, it was a great reading month! Next month is going to be so fun, I already have my TBR ready so look out for that coming up soon.
How did your August go? Are you ready for fall/winter?
Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” is a journey through some of the most heartbreaking stories of adults and children who have been sent to prison for life or sentenced to death. What is so unfair is that there were innocent people who did not have a proper legal defense or people who had a punishment that was not proper for the crime they committed. This book had me on the edge of my seat while also grabbing tissues because it really was upsetting.
These stories are not easy to read, in fact, this is one of the hardest books I’ve ever read. There are stories in this book that truly broke my heart. Adults and children sent to prison because it was easier for the officers and judges to do that than try to look for the real culprit, or sometimes simply because the laws set mandatory sentences that the judges couldn’t ignore. I would warn that there is a lot of violence described in this book, stories about difficult childhoods, mental abuse, physical abuse, isolation, and stress. I could feel Stevenson’s stress and anxiety through the page as he goes through all the hoops to get appeals, re-trials, as well as everything crumbles and he is faced the execution of the people he’s trying to help.
I highly recommend that you read this book or even watch the film if you have any interest in this subject at all. The film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, is filled with great acting but also a lot of heart. Jordan and Foxx take some liberties with their characters but I felt that it was a good story overall, even if it became a bit more Hollywood than documentary. While the movie is not a 100% faithful reproduction of the book, it still translates the main message of the book and does introduce a lot of the issues with the legal system at the time. While some of those issues have gotten better, it’s not yet all great.
I’d also recommend that you check out the Equal Justice Initiative website where you’ll find a lot of information on the current state of the legal system with regards to capital punishment and different ways that you can get involved.
Hello August! July was a bit of an intense month for me, you can read about it in my July Wrap Up, and I finished reading 5 books. So, what does August have in store for me?
Let’s look first at the books I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: My friend and I are making good progress on The Stand. We are currently about half way through the book and I love how all the characters are starting to come together while there’s still a mystery of what will happen next.
The Sandman Omnibus Vol I by Neil Gaiman: I’m about half way through this collection of comics as well! I’ve loved how the mythology is weaving through all the different characters while moving along Morpheus’ storyline.
Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel García Márquez: This book has been a bit slow for me. Each story so far is one that I need to take my time with and pay a bit more attention than most books. That’s not to say that I’m not liking it but I am definitely taking my time with each story.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: I barely started this book so I’m about 50 pages into it. I’m really enjoying jumping back into the world of the Orisha so I’m sure I’ll breeze through this book after I’m done with Just Mercy.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I am almost done with this book! It’s been a hard book to read because of the subject matter: people on death row, specifically people who do not deserve to be there because they are innocent or because the punishment is not on par with the crime. I love that it is opening my eyes to issues that I never imagined were issues so I’ll be researching more about it all beyond this book.
Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki: This was not in my plans for July but due to the stress of the month I thought that it was appropriate to read a bit about meditation and how to take that into my every day life. I love this book so far because it is something that I can incorporate easily without actually needing to sit for 20 mins with my eyes closed.
And now, let’s take a look at the books I’ll be adding to my TBR for August:
An Offer From A Gentleman by Julia Quinn: I’m continuing my journey of reading the Bridgerton series so I’m looking forward to reading about Benedict and his quest of finding love.
Emma by Jane Austen: This was the book chosen via my Want To Read List Cleanup #2. I’ve never read a Jane Austen book so this will be really interesting. I don’t actually know much about what the book is about but that’s fine by me!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve heard a lot about this series and, seeing the teasers for the show, I’ve been very interested in reading it. It’s a looooong one so we’ll see how long it takes for me to read it.
Hunger by Roxane Gay: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of August. This book is about body image, Gay’s relationship with food, and self care. This one might be a bit of a hard book to read so I’ll likely read it in sections throughout the month.
The Allies of Humanity by Marshall Vian Summers: This is the new book pick for the book club with my friends and well, not my first choice so this will be interesting. Summers writes about aliens and their interactions with the people of Earth. Apparently it is non-fiction…!?
Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto: This is the book that will come in the Feminist Book Club box for August. This book looks like a lot of fun: murder and romance, what’s not to like?
I am quite glad that I’ll get to read more romance books in August. I’m hoping that this month is a bit less stressful than last month and that I’ll be able to dive into my books without much of a care in the world.
So in June I read 6 books, among them a memoir, an essay collection, YA, and even some comics! What will July have in store for me?
So I took a look at my Goodreads reading challenge, which I had already increased from 12 to 30 back in March, and now that my reading pace has picked up I will increase it to 50 since I’m already at 25 books!
I’m not forcing myself to finish books before the end of the month or waiting until the next month to start others that were not listed in my previous TBR. Reading as the mood strikes, following the flow of my reading has been really working for me. The only ones that I do have a set schedule for are the ones that I’m buddy reading or with the two (and a half) book clubs I’m in.
Let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still reading this! hahaha It will be in these posts for the foreseeable future. As I previously mentioned, this book is about a flu pandemic, people are dying left and right and something supernatural is starting to happen now. There is the theme of dreaming now in the novel, which is super interesting, I’m on page 345.
Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: We are still reading about the various queens in this sort of gossipy style that Morató has (which I’m not a fan of…) So far the stories of each empress/queen have varied in writing quality so it’s a hit or miss. Right now I’m on page 306, reading about Eugénie de Montijo who is super interesting. I think that this one is my favorite story so far (even if it’s still TMZ-style).
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and I just started it a few days ago but I’m so into it! Now this is full of gossip, satire, and so so fun! I expect to be done with this one pretty soon.
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I juuuust started this last week and, while it is a comic collection, it is giant! I am on page 149 and I love the art style. I will share some of my favorite pages in my review once I finish it.
Then there are the books I’m planning on starting this month and reading in between the book club books:
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Continuing my journey through the Bridgerton series I’ll be reading Anthony’s story next!
Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The complete short story collection that was selected as the book to read from my Want To Read list cleanup post last month. I’m excited about diving into these short stories! I might or might not finish these within the month, we’ll see how it goes.
Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: This was the pick of the month for the Feminist Book Club, it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s not pictured above. This is the half a book club I mentioned above since, while I do try to get to the book of the month each time I’m not pushing myself to finish it before the Q&A with the author as much since I normally can’t make the live chats. I’m excited about this book because it is a combination of poetry and prose about fairy tales. I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings so I’m looking forward to reading this book.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of July. I’ve previously read The Kite Runner and I really loved that book so I hope that this one is also as great! This book focuses on a story told over two generations about characters in Afghanistan. There’s friendship, heartbreak, and rich history throughout this book so it’s bound to be a great read for the book club.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: The second installment in the Legacy of Orïsha series has been on my bookshelves unread for far too long! In the first book, Children of Blood and Bone, we follow Zelie as she goes on a quest to return magic to people who have had their magic taken away. I really enjoyed the first book so I’m hoping that the second book lives up to my expectations.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I wanted to add a non-fiction book to July and Just Mercy was just calling my name. This book is a memoir about Stevenson’s journey as he works on one of his first cases as a lawyer where Walter McMillan is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It promises to be a very compelling and emotional read, especially following The New Jim Crow, which I read in June. There is also a movie that came out in 2019 so I will probably watch that after I read the book.
Overall, July promises to be a fun month full of great reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to read outside a bit (not the Sandman Omnibus of course XD) and catch some sun this summer. Maybe I’ll even venture a trip to the park or the beach just for reading, as long as it’s not too hot here in SoCal. What are you reading in July? Have you read any of the books in my reading plans? If so, what did you think?