JJ Reads

Memo Pad: July Wrap Up

I think I should just start pretending I mean to post my monthly wrap ups in the next month rather than keep saying it’s late. What do you think?

Anyway. What happened in July? I’m asking myself that question because at this point I can’t remember!

Writing wise, I managed to get the first two chapters of my new contemporary fantasy rough drafted. It was a lot less than I’d planned originally. I had wanted to get four or five done. BUT having finished my intense revision of my scifi and going through a move it was, in the end, more than I expected. I also started writing up my second round revision plan for my scifi based on feedback which I’m currently doing but I’ll tell you about that in my August wrap up.

Life wise, it’s been hectic. I’m STILL going through the house move. It’s been six weeks since we sold and moved out of our house and we still haven’t completed or moved IN to our new one. There seemed to be a new problem everyday BUT we finally have a moving in date which is this month. So hopefully when you hear from me in my next wrap up I’ll be talking to you from there! (Although I don’t know how long it’ll take to sort out Internet so that wrap up might be late for a good reason!)

But onto my reading for July. It was a pretty mixed month. I read some books I LOVED, but a lot of books didn’t quite work for me for various reasons. It happens, I guess.

(Links, as always, go to the books goodreads page)

Mini reviews summary:

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel *****

Black mirror-esque take on a British citizen test turned real but it didn’t dive deep enough to land the punch (Also check the TWs)

Green Toes by Avery Flinders *****

Contemporary fantasy short story about a bisexual woman moving to the city to find herself.

Underdogs by Chris Bonnello *****

Exciting adventure with a cast full of neurodivergent characters but I was uncomfortable with some of the rep and felt it lacked chemistry between characters.

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee *****

Fun diverse adventure with superheroes, villains, a bunch of teens trying to figure out whose right and an adorable f/f.

Full Reviews:

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed *****

I liked this book. I liked all three main characters. Unfortunately it never quite got past the like point for me. Every thing I did like about this book seemed to be tinged in the way it was portrayed. But before I get to that this book is a very powerful and nuanced story about rape, the me too movement and empowering girls (and everybody) to take a stand and have their voices heard. Set in a high school in a closed community where everyone seems to rather cover up and move on than get justice until three girls come together and say enough.

My favourite character was Rosina, an angry girl from a Mexican family, struggling with the responsibility of working at her families restaurant and being the oldest cousin. And yet she was so obviously caring. I loved her developing relationship with the girl she had a crush on and I loved her friendship with Erin who is autistic even though I did cringe away from the way it was treated. Which is actually the way I felt about most parts of this book (some aspects of the me too movement made me cringe in places too). The friendship had the possibility of being so accepting and while it was, Rosina focuses a lot on pointing out all the reasons Erin isn’t normally accepted or dismissing the differences. Always a joke. Of course. And it was obvious she genuinely cared but it made me uncomfortable. Which leads me onto Erin.

I’m conflicted about the autism rep in this book because some of it, especially a lot of Erin’s internal thoughts, felt spot on whereas other parts felt very uncomfortable to read. Almost as if the different parts didn’t fit together and the way it treated her character growth felt off to me. It doesn’t necessarily make it bad, it might just not be my experience, but it felt uncomfortable especially the way Erin’s character acted and was treated towards the end.

Also I have to point out what felt rather glaring  aphobia in this quote:

She likes Otis Goldberg in a way that is different from and bigger than how she likes Rosina and Grace. She likes Otis Goldberg as something more than a friend.

Would it really have been so hard to just leave it at different and not more/bigger? Especially in a book about friendship and girl power. It always seems to me that the most harmful and glaring hurtful comments I see are in diverse books about acceptance and it’s frustrating.

So overall. Yes, I liked this book. It’s a very important subject and I love that we got so many views about who was affected in what ways and what different people thought about what was happening. I loved all three main characters as well but it didn’t quite tick the right boxes for me.

Trigger warnings: multiple descriptions of rape, a rape by multiple people, sexual assault, slut shaming, aphobia.

Rep: the three main MC’s are an autistic girl, a Mexican American lesbian, and a Christian pastors daughter.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang *****

This is a book that’s been on my list for ages and I’m so glad I finally got to it. It’s been described as silkpunk to me before – it’s an east Asian based fantasy following the life of Akeha and their twin from when they are children all the way through to adults trying to find their place in a country ruled by their mother the Empress. I’m always interested in books that have magic clashing with technology and how it affects the world / how the world is ruled. I also love books where characters are questioning the morality of what they are doing. This is a great example of both!

I also really loved the gender system where children are considered genderless and use they/them pronouns until they decide otherwise but I would have liked there to be a nonbinary character as it felt a bit erasing at one point. As if everyone would be eventually choose to be binary if they were given the choice. Having said that it was interesting and I loved (and at times hated) all the relationships. Especially with their twin and the romantic feelings they had for others (I won’t say more). The characters were so well written and I really felt like I knew exactly how Akeha was feeling. I’m looking forward to reading the next novella set in this world.

Rep: Choice based gender system, and queer relationships.

Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze***** (Review Copy)

I had no idea going into this book that it would become a list of things I LOVE. Seriously. Thieves. Magic. Riddles. Secret caverns. Morally corrupt Trickster gods. And it was all done so well. Once it got going I had a problem putting this book down (to the extent I nearly missed a very rare dinner outing because I lost track of time!)

The magic system worked by writing spells down (normally on the casters body) but it also causes a poison to build up which means the magic used is normally highly regulated. Enter Corcorun Gray, an outcast who makes up his own rules on the hunt for his kidnapped grandfather. Rogue wizards, necromantic gods, complicated family, a hidden maze of riddles and lots of quick reactions leading to very bad decisions equals an awesome, action packed fantasy story. I absolutely love morally broken, flashy, trickster gods too and the one in this was brilliant!

My ONLY problem with this book is that it does feature the magic cure for disability. I actually had no idea going into this book that the MC was disabled. He has a badly healed knee and therefore a limp. He wears a brace and deals with a lot of pain from it. He also has magic induced seizures when he uses too many spells (magic is poison remember?). I’m always so happy when I see a disabled character in a fantasy book and I LOVED how it was treated through most of the book. I loved Gray so much. He felt whole and nuanced and awesome! A brilliant character. How many badass disabled characters can you name who get to go on adventures? Not many for me anyway. So when I got to the end and he got cured…. It’s disappointing. I’m not going to lie. I love this book but it’s sad seeing this happen. A good thing is that Gray never goes after a cure, it’s never a motivation, and his life is actually more complicated rather than easier for it in the end but it left me feeling quite sad that, having found an awesome disabled character in a book I loved, he won’t be disabled in the sequel.

But, this is an amazing fantasy book I’d recommend for anyone who wants an action packed story full of magic and awesome characters. For me it’s just bittersweet that Gray gets cured.

Content warning: magic cure for disability.

Favourite book:

Unarcana Stars (Starship’s Mage #6) by Glynn Stewart *****

This is the sixth book in one of my favourite ever series. Each book is amazing but from this point out the MC, Damien, is also joined by a couple of new povs. I was worried because I love Damien so much but actually I really liked it, I’m excited to see more of them. (They are an ex convict girl with a second chance and a female spy in a polyam relationship).

Favourite Quote:

“So you chose rebellion.”

“We chose to act. Rebellion was the protectorate’s choice. They could easily have accepted our existence. But they didn’t.”

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

How has your reading been going lately? Have you come across any good books you would recommend to people? Tell me what you are up to this month!

2 thoughts on “Memo Pad: July Wrap Up”

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