Spring 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

I’m a little late on this post, but that’s okay~ I actually quite like doing these quarterly/seasonal wrap-ups much more than monthly because it’s so much easier to reflect on all of the things over a season, especially when reading webcomics.

These are all of the things (I hope) I read from April-June 2020!

Webtoons

New

A ditsy university student Mew finds a lost student card. Instead of doing the sensible thing, Mew decides to let fate take the wheel and try something silly. Little did she know, she would be confronting the owner of the card, Daze who has some things to say about what she did. Did Mew make the biggest mistake of her life? or the best decision of her life? Follow these two adorable goofballs to find out!

This is such an adorable and hilarious webtoon so far! I really love the art style, and the story is just like reading a k-drama. It kind of reminds me of when I was a teen and reading shoujo romance manga for the first time and being all giddy while reading it because it’s just so dang CUTE! Check out Nice to Meet You if you’re looking for a rom-com to bring up your happiness meter!

★★★★★

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

By now many of you have probably heard of this comic, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, and since being able to read it on Webtoon I finally understand all the hype around it! It’s such a cute, wholesome story dealing with love, identity, family, and more. I love the way Oseman handles the topics and presents them in many ways, from super supportive to issues with bullying. A great comic that I highly recommend, especially if you want to squeal with the cuteness of it!

★★★★★

‘The Witch and The Beast’ is an epic-fantasy tale. Marius Bellemore, lord and protector of the vampire race, chooses to ally himself with the last surviving witch of the Redwood circle. That, in itself, is a strange fact for vampires and witches have been enemies for centuries… Join these characters on a journey full of adventures, drama and…romance!

First of all, the art style in The Witch and the Beast is gorgeous. I think it really enhances the overall story because it is a bit darker than the usual webtoons I read, and it really gives a bit of atmosphere to the dark fantasy story at hand. Second, the story itself is really good so far! I mean, we got vampires, we got witches, we got hot demon boys… what more can you want? But seriously, I really am enjoying the story so far and how there’s still a lot of mystery shrouding why the witches are being hunted and who stands with who, etc. Definitely check it out if you want a diverse gothic fantasy read!

★★★★★

Continued

Season two of Freaking Romance started back up and the sci-fi elements just keep on coming! There’s not too many episodes for season two out yet, but it really upped the ante after the cliffhanger from last season, so I can’t wait to see how it continues to unfold.

I Love Yoo is currently on a short hiatus, but I’ve caught up to the current episode and man, the drama just never stops lol But in a good way. We’re learning about more of the backstories of some of the major characters, and seeing new characters be introduced, so I’m excited to see how this unfolds.

Season two of Castle Swimmer started and now the two boys are trying to navigate their own destinies away from one another – and try to change their destinies as well. I’m a few episodes behind as of writing this, but I still am very much enjoying this second season so far.

Currently on pause as of the season two wrap up, The Four of Them really introduced a lot of new struggles between all of the characters, including identity, family, relationship problems (both romantic and platonic), and more. I think that the second season was really well done and I can’t wait for the third.

Season one of Lore Olympus finished in June and man, is there a lot to think about! Kore’s trying to stand up more for herself, Hades is admitting his feelings to himself, and we’re just learning so much more backstory behind who they are and the different sides of Kore/Persephone that I can’t wait to see what season two will bring!

Soleil is still as cute in style as ever, but the story introduced some new mechanics to the plot and how the characters interact with one another, and I think that it just really enhanced the story. There’s a lot of mystery shrouding it right now, but I’m excited to continue!

Books

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Sorcery of Thorns was an okay read for me. I felt myself lose interest very early on because I was heavily annoyed by the main protagonist, and I really only felt drawn to it in parts where the main love interest was introduced and the magic elements itself. It wasn’t a bad read, but I found myself disappointed.

★★★☆☆

I’ve done a full review of this book, and man, let me just say it again that this was a fantastic read. I can see why it was so hyped up – and is still hyped up – and I’m really glad I read it. I felt a huge range of emotions reading this, and it really showed me just how important community can be. The story touched on issues of race, identity, police brutality, and more. Such an impactful, great read.

★★★★★


That’s it! I was sucked into the world of Animal Crossing New Horizons in late April, so my reading went way down lol But what I did read was enjoyable and really made an impact on me, and I think that that’s more valuable than the amount I read. Quality > quantity.

Here’s what I’m currently reading, what I want to read, and what I hope to share my thoughts on in the (hopefully near) future:

Currently Reading

I need to get in the habit of reading only one book at a time. Seriously lol The ones I’m actually actively reading at this moment are Pachinko and A Song Below Water; the other three are currently put down for now.

TBR

Rereads

I never read the last two books in the Throne of Glass series or the last book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series due to life several years ago being really rough for me, so I want to reread them from the beginning and actually finish them before I read Crescent City. As for Air Awakens, I never finished reading the last book, and when I tried to late last year I was so lost because it had been years since I read the fourth book and I couldn’t really remember what was going on.

Pretty much these rereads are just me not being able to finish series.

I plan on reading these over summer (though I don’t know how long the reread will take me as I have other books I also want to read), but I’m just going to go at my own pace and enjoy myself. No need to feel pressure to read some great books, right?


How was your reading habits over spring what with quarantine and other happenings in the world? What was your favorite read? Your most impactful? Did any make you feel a certain emotion strongly over others? Let me know all the things!

The Hate U Give | Book Review

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 444
Format: Hardcover

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

I bought this book when it first came out and I didn’t read it until now. There was an incredible amount of hype behind it – and rightly so – but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. A lot was going on in my personal life, but I knew I wanted to read it eventually.

And boy, am I finally glad I did. I started to read it at the height of the protests this past June, and I wanted to take it slow, so it wasn’t until almost a full month later that I started reading and couldn’t put it down. It’s such a fast, impactful read.

I’m just going to say it now: I really loved this book. It filled me with anger, sadness, relief, happiness, love, hope, disgust; pretty much a whole range of emotions. Let’s talk about my thoughts on the story itself:

First of all, the family aspect in this book is AMAZING! I never get to read a lot about family dynamics in any books I read, regardless if they’re YA, adult, middle grade, whatever. So being able to see such a strongly rooted family was so refreshing. I loved not just the relationship Starr has with her parents and siblings, but also her uncle and how he’s very much like a second father to her.

Of course, with this greatly tight-knit family comes the opposite for many of the other characters in Starr’s world, like her half-brother Seven’s mom and stepfather, or Khalil’s mom. There’s many sides to the dice, and I appreciated getting even just a glimpse into some of the other relationships some of the other characters had.

I felt sadness for Starr, not just because of what happened to Khalil right in front of her eyes (which is obviously tragic and horrible and no one should ever have to witness that), but also that she felt such a need to separate who she was depending on where she was: if she was in Garden Heights, she was one person; if she was at her school at Williamson, she was a completely different person, a held back version of herself. As the book goes through many ups and downs, Starr has many realizations about herself and the world and people around her, including one of her “friends.” I’m glad that she figures it out, to some degree, by the end as to who she is and where she fits in with all of it.

Reading about the gangs in the book kind of put in to perspective just how much gangs can be like a family to people, as well as how hard it can be to leave if you no longer want to be part of them. It can be scary, for sure, but it was also cool to see rival gangs come together for a similar purpose.

I felt that the whole journey that Starr took to reevaluate her stance on everything – her friend groups, her family, her race, everything – was handled really well and felt very real. I could see her struggle with it, especially when it came to opening up and being more vulnerable with her white boyfriend, Chris. I could see her struggle and how she really handled it with a lot of consideration and care for herself.

Of course, some of the hardest parts to read were her recounting the murder of her best friend. I almost cried at the very end of a chapter where she was recounting it in front of people and just her last sentence felt so impactful, so raw, so real, that I almost started to ball my eyes out because… wow. I’ll most likely never have to experience or think something like that ever in my life, and how she had to think that at 16? It hurts.

And how she had to call out one of her friends for having said several racist things over the years, and the white girl never admitted to it and would always play the victim. It was frustrating and I wanted to slap her, but I was also glad to see that there was also Chris, Starr’s boyfriend, who wanted to prove that he loves her for her, nothing else. It was nice to see.

Overall, this whole story is incredible. I’m not doing it justice by talking about it here (other than the fact that I’m rusty at these book reviews lol), but I can understand the hype, and I highly recommend you read this book – especially if you’re white – just to get a glimpse into the world Black people experience every day.

Also remember: Black Lives Matter, all day, every day.

★★★★★

Sorcery of Thorns | Book Review

Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Publish Date: June 4, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 465
Format: Kindle eBook

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery: magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught – about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Sorcery of Thorns is a standalone YA fantasy novel, which is not something that you often come by. It’s a story that began (and technically ended) in a library, with books that could talk, move, make noise, snore, etc. That part was super fascinating to imagine! Like, can you picture hundreds of grimoires just mumbling to themselves or trying to spit ink at you? It sounds fun, not gonna lie.

The main female protagonist, Elisabeth, grew up in one of the Great Libraries in the kingdom, as she was abandoned there as a baby. She grew up amongst the stacks and loved them very much. She was also very much trained in what it was that the librarians should expect of the novels: that they’re dangerous – especially those of higher class levels – and that they could kill people if they changed into Maleficts.

Also that sorcerer’s are evil and will kill you for the hell of it.

As she is thrust into a much different, much larger city than the one she grew up in due to tragic circumstances at the library she grew up in, she discovers that not everything that was taught is as it seems, and she slowly learns and grows from that over time.

However, I will say, I really didn’t like her character through 80% of the story. I found her to be just… too afraid of everything. She felt incredibly weak and not quite three-dimensional for a large portion of the story. It kind of felt like her growth was stunted for a while. As the story and the stakes grew, I saw more of her potential, but as a main character, there was a lot that I just wasn’t personally drawn to. Like, I felt like, especially in the beginning, that her biggest defining “trait” was her height, because it was pointed out so often. It was just very frustrating at times.

As for the secondary main character, Nathanial, who is a sorcerer, I really liked him! Quite the contrast to Elisabeth, I really liked his character. Yes, he has a dark past (that some parts weren’t explored too much or in too much detail, which is a shame), so sometimes he comes off as standoffish, but his humor genuinely made me laugh. I loved his sarcasm so much!

I also enjoyed seeing the magic and how it worked in this world from a couple of sorcerers. Nathanial’s magic was dark, much like his family’s past, and it was very powerful. I think the caveat of having a higher-demon being your patron in order for you to have magic was a great way to incorporate magic into the world – and one I don’t see often in stories!

I do wish, however, that there was more of him in the novel, and more interactions between him, Elisabeth, and Silas, who is Nathanial’s demon. When the two of them – and even the three of them, or just Silas and Elisabeth – were together, it felt like there was a lot more life added to the page, and I was just so curious about the two male protagonists and what they were going through.

Silas, the demon, is very forthright in his feelings towards humans, emotions, and other such things, and he really sticks to it through to the end. I can’t explain much more than that without spoiling it, but I really enjoyed how a high-born demon, in a bound pact with a human, is such a stickler for decorum as a butler. It’s a great juxtaposition, and one of the best highlights throughout the book.

I found myself often predicting a lot of what was going to happen next as I was reading, and then found myself becoming frustrated when it wasn’t obvious to Elisabeth for a bit after. I don’t know why it bugged me so much that she didn’t get it, but also I’m not the biggest fan of being able to predict things that are going to happen (I’m talking multiple times; once or twice is okay). And then when it did happen and Elisabeth would react the way she did just… didn’t help.

I found the plot to be interesting, though, especially with the lore behind the demons, the grimoires, the magic, and ancestors involved in the story. It was very intricate and I found it to be pretty enjoyable as a result.

The romance was both subtle and rushed all at once. I mean, I thought it was sweet and I enjoyed the scenes, but also, wow, they almost moved really fast and it caught me off guard. I do think, though, that they compliment each other well.

The epilogue, also, I enjoyed (and predicted, but I was glad I did), and found myself wanting more afterward.

Despite all that, I liked the book. I definitely think that if you’re interested in reading it, if you like books about books, magic, betrayal, and romance, that you’ll enjoy the story. Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I’ll gravitate back towards anytime soon.

★★★☆☆

Stay At Home Book Tag

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe! Today I wanted to do a tag that’s pretty cozy as it’s all about books to read while just staying at home.

This tag was originally created by Madison of Princess of Paperback, so go check out her video for her answers!

Laying in bed: a book you could/have read in one day

Not counting manga, because I can read multiple volumes in one day, I’m going to say that I have read the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman in about a day each (or at least in 24 hours each). These books sucked me in and put me right into the world. I think that the mix media feel of the books played a huge part in my enjoyment of them, but I was genuinely captivated by the story and characters and was rooting for them and such. Such a great science fiction YA trilogy if you’re interested in reading it.

Check out my full thoughts: Illuminae | Gemina | Obsidio

Snacking: guilty pleasure book

These steamy new adult romances by Elle Kennedy are SUCH a guilty pleasure read! I love to read about romance and look for it in the stories I read all the time, so throw in some hot dudes and ladies, some drama, steamy scenes, and romance, and it’s like the perfect combo. There is talk of hockey in these, but it’s not all encompassing, but it does play a big part in them given the guys are college hockey players, so.

Really any romance that Elle Kennedy writes is a guilty pleasure read for me. I enjoy her writing style a lot and how she writes her characters.

Check out my reviews: The Deal | The Mistake | The Score | The Goal

Netflix: series you want to start

For this, I was staring at my shelves and I have a few series I’d love to start sooner rather than later, but I think the one that intrigues me is the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristen Cashore. It’s an older companion trilogy that my husband actual owned, and so I figured I’d read it eventually, you know? I had tried to start reading it a year or so ago, but I just never did, so… that needs to change eventually lol

Oh, another “older” series I’d love to read that’s been on my shelves for forever is Splintered by A.G. Howard. I started reading them a long while ago (they’re an Alice in Wonderland retelling, if you couldn’t tell), but I never finished the first book. One day I will!

Deep clean: been on your TBR for ages

*stares at my shelves* ….Yes.

No, but I think one of the ones that have been there the longest is the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. I’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet years ago, and made it part way through Cress, but I’ve never actually finished. It’s not like I lost interest, I think I just got distracted and never picked it back up. I’m thinking I might restart the series, or just restart Cress, but we’ll see!

Animal Crossing: book you bought because of the hype

Alright, flashback to about…what, five or six years ago? When To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han came out, there was a huge buzz in the book community about them, so of course I got them. I remember liking them, and I haven’t read the third book, but I don’t think I’d reread them again.

Check out my reviews: To All the Boys I Loved Before | P.S. I Still Love You

Productivity: book you learnt from or had an impact on you

I don’t read a lot of books outside of fiction, so I’m going to say one that had a big impact on me was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. When I read this, I was fully enamored by it. The story hit me hard due to similar circumstances and emotions I was going through at the time, and the writing itself was just lovely. It’s seriously a great book, fairly short, but packed with emotion.

Check out my review: A Monster Calls

FaceTime: a book you were gifted

Over the holidays, my parents gifted me two books: one was The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion: 2007-2017, and the other was The Ultimate Guide to Creating Comics by William C. Potter and Juan Calle. They both know how much into drawing I am, as well as anime and manga, and so they got me these books! They’re pretty neat and inspiring.

Self care: what is one thing you’ve done recently to look after yourself

Image is the initial loading screen of the game.

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII remake since it came out at midnight on Friday April 10 and have only logged a little over 30 hours at the point in which I’m writing this, so…. And I’m sad that this is only part one and not the full game, but if it had been then it would have been much larger than 100GB, that’s for sure. I am, however, really enjoying it as it’s my first time ever playing the game since I never played the original.

The graphics are beautiful, the story is really great, I love the characters, and I can see why this is one of the most hyped and beloved of the franchise.

BONUS: name a book coming out soon that you’re excited for

I’ve got to be honest, I have no clue what’s coming out anymore. I haven’t been active in the community for so long that I no longer really know what’s coming out and such. And, well, I’m trying to be careful with money and buying things as much as I can, so yeah.

OH. One book I’m excited about that’s coming out later this year is book four, Rhythm of War, in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read the first book, The Way of Kings, but it was phenomenal and I can’t wait to continue with the series. It’s set to hopefully come out in November 2020.

I tag everyone who wants to participate! Do you have a book you’re excited to come out soon or this year? What have you been doing to take care of yourself? What’s your guilty pleasure read? Tell me all the things in the comments below!

5 Bookish Things to Do During Quarantine

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing well during these stressful times. I know for many, if not all of us, strict rules have been applied to our current states of living, and so many of us are turning to books to be able to find some solace among the chaos. So, to bring about some cheerfulness, I thought I’d share five fun and/or practical things us bookworms can do to keep at least somewhat sane during these times.

5. Organize your shelves, bookmark collection, candles, etc.

I, for one, know my shelves are a mess. Like I don’t have enough space for all of my books to fit nicely, so some are just stacked in front and it’s not all that pretty, but it’s functional. If you’re like me, now is a good time to set to organizing your shelves the way you want to!

Want to organize them by color? DO IT!

Want to organize them alphabetically by author? DO IT!

Want to organize them by large vs small, genre, hardcover vs paperback, etc. DO IT!

There’s seriously so many endless ways you can organize your shelves. I love seeing people be super creative in their organizational skills. It inspires (and also intimidates) me, and I really want to try to rearrange my shelves with the limited space I got so everything fits. Even if it means double stacking/shelving.

Don’t let this deceive you; there’s a lot in here.

Another thing you can organize is your bookmark collection. If you’re like me, you probably have a fairly sizable collection of bookmarks. Maybe take this time to organize them and really look at the ones you want to keep, give away, or throw away. Do a little KonMari while you’re in quarantine; you might feel better!

4. Support your local bookstores by buying online!

Because this fun time is really hitting everyone, especially small businesses, look into your local independent bookstores and see who is selling online. Many stores are doing free shipping along with ordering, so really it’s a win-win situation.

If you want a list of independent bookstores, check out IndieBound! Not only will you be able to find a local bookstore in your area or state, but you might also be able to visit those places once quarantine is over!

3. Participate in online read-a-thons or book clubs.

There’s never a dull moment in the book community, let me tell you. Not only are there local book clubs that you can visit in person (once this is over), but there are TONS of read-a-thons happening online all the time!

As you already know, this month of April is the O.W.L.s read-a-thon, which I’m participating in, and takes place every April. Not only that, but the subsequent N.E.W.T.s takes place every August, so there’s even more to look forward to as the year progresses with this Harry Potter themed read-a-thon.

Not only that, but there’s read-a-longs going on, as well, such as Cosmerealong, where people are reading some of Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy books. Really, just do a quick search online and you’ll find plenty. Plus, a lot of independent bookstores have their own book clubs or books that they highlight, so I suggest you check those out.

2. Blog, Booktube, Instagram, etc. ALL THE BOOKISH THINGS!

From my Instagram: missrayna_

What you’re doing right now? BOOKISH! But really, go blog! Do the Instagram thing, make your photos aesthetic af, go watch or make some YouTube videos, etc. Stay in touch with other readers and try to keep the mood light during these tough times. It’ll seriously be super rewarding for you, I’m sure.

1 . When in doubt, read.

Obviously, as readers, we read. It’s just the thing we do. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the other things, pick up a favorite book and reread it, allowing yourself to escape into that world you love so much. Or pick up one of your books for one of the read-a-thons you’re in, or a new book, or even read some webcomics! It doesn’t matter what form the book takes, but just take the time to actually read and unwind throughout the day.


I hope you all found this little list helpful. I just wanted to do a light-hearted post about things to do during quarantine, so I hope this gave you a few ideas. Keep up the great work you’re doing, and have fun!

What are you reading right now? Have your organized (or dusted off) your shelves lately? Let me know!