Hi all, and happy Tuesday!
I know I mention it in just about every single monthly wrap-up, but I truly cannot believe we’re halfway done with 2020 (I’ve since decided that time isn’t real). The only thing I suppose we can wish for now is that 2020 is halfway done with us.
I hope that you all have been doing well and treating yourself with some extra kindness and love. I hope you’ve been standing up for what’s right. I hope you’ve been educating yourself and signing petitions. I hope you’ve been advocating for change, whatever that may look like for you. I hope you’re staying aware and staying sane. I hope your mental health is improving day by day or remaining stable. And, I sincerely hope that you’ve been wearing a mask and staying 6ft away from people when you go to any public place.
But, without further ado, let’s wrap up June!
June was nothing short of a fantastic reading month. I finished a long-awaited series, and I met up with a whole host of newest favorite characters. I even read one of the best thrillers/mysteries I’ve read to date. I thoroughly enjoyed every single book I read this month, and I wish it could be like for every month here on out.
The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan – ★★★★★. Like I mentioned in my May Wrap-Up, I’ve officially started
(and since ended) my PJO journey as a “full-grown” adult! I think one of the main reasons why I enjoyed The Titan’s Curse so much was because the plot almost entirely focused on Grover. Now, I don’t think it’s much of a secret anymore, but I adored Grover the moment I met him in the first PJO book, so the whole gang on a quest to find him is probably the best plot I could’ve imagined for this book? I also really love how flawlessly tied in each of these books are. The plot continues to build on top of the plots from the previous books, and it’s kind of fantastic.
The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan – ★★★★☆. If I was ever expected to save the entirety of life as I know it by my ability to get through a harrowing maze in which things are trying to kill me around every corner, I’m sorry to say but I don’t think I’d be all too successful. I also have to admit that, aside from The Lightning Thief, I think The Battle of the Labyrinth has one of the most iconic beginnings out of the whole series! I mean, we meet Nico and Bianca; there are killer cheerleaders; and Percy is just trying to impress and not ruin his mom’s boyfriend’s reputation, failing in the process as he blows up the school he’s employed by. Like I said, it’s iconic. I believe this is also the first book that we meet the Hunters of Artemis? And they’re so, so wonderful.
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan – ★★★★★. It was definitely bittersweet to officially reach the end of the PJO series. But The Last Olympian was such a beautiful conclusion to the story. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m always going to be heartbroken over the characters that we lost, but it was executed so well. As a reader, you finally get to see Percy really come into his own. From being terrified at the sight of three women cutting a string to leading a battle on Mount Olympus? We love character development in this house. I also loved seeing Percy and Annabeth grow into one another along the way, with this last book almost fireworking their respect and adoration for one another. And I’m fairly certain that The Last Olympian made me fully fall in love with Thalia Grace with no hesitation.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – ★★★★★. Okay. Without any form of exaggeration or dramatization, this has got to be one of the best (if not the best) thriller I have ever read. It was the right amount of creepy at the exact right time, and I was second guessing everything. Not to mention, so many fingers were being pointed that I’m fairly certain I had whiplash by the time I reach the end of the book. And because Home Before Dark focuses on a character that’s one of the main characters in her father’s nonfiction book about a haunted house, every other chapter is a chapter from his book. Super fantastic. Super quick read. I can’t recommend it enough.
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – ★★★★☆. I read A Darker Shade of Magic early on during this whole global pandemic business, and I’m so happy to have returned to this wonderfully terrifying magical world. There were definitely some parts of the book that felt a little slow, but you could almost feel the momentum to the Big Thing it was undoubtedly leading up to. The second book of the Shades of Magic series also includes this competitive tournament in which magicians from all over the empire fight each other with the different elements they can control (water, earth, air, and fire). The writing and actual content is nothing short of stunning. I’ve also really come to love Lila, Kell, Rhy, and Alucard – all for different reasons. These characters are each complexly unique, with traumatizing backgrounds, and it was wonderful to see how that background shaped who they are as people. I feel like I don’t quite have the words for this series right now,
and I’m definitely failing as a book blogger because of it.
Currently reading: Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. It was only a matter of time before I jumped back into the Riordanverse, right? I’m definitely enjoying meeting these new characters, but I’m still a bit iffy on now focusing on Roman mythology vs. Greek. I’ve also heard a few readers argue back and forth about which is better, Camp Half Blood or Camp Jupiter, and that’s not even a competition. Are you joking?!
The Politician, season 2. I have been looking forward to the second season of this show since the first season came out, and I may or may not have finished the second season in one day. The second season was just as addicting as the first, and I couldn’t pull myself away from the screen; I just had to watch one more episode. Unfortunately though, there were a few things that rubbed me the wrong way. But, even with those few things that I didn’t care for, it was still intriguing enough for me to watch the new season within a 24 hour window. Without spoiling anything, I didn’t particularly like the plotline nor some of the characters’ development arcs. You can probably tell, but I’m very wishy washy on the new season. If there’s a season 3 though, you can bet I’ll watch it in an instant.
How to Train Your Dragon. I have been living under a rock because I hadn’t watched this movie up until this past month, and that’s pretty disgraceful. How could I have lived that much of my life without meeting Toothless?? Going into this movie, I knew I was going to walk away from loving it. From the trailer to the high reviews of trusted friends, I knew I was in for something special. What I wasn’t expecting though was how much How to Train Your Dragon would touch my heart and affect my emotional well-being. Watching Hiccup and Toothless slowly get comfortable to each other before moving into full-on “I will protect you with my life” mode was heart wrenching. Hiccup was a misunderstood underdog being directed by a society and culture he didn’t exactly fit into, and so was Toothless. They were mirrors for each other, and together they found exactly where they fit into the world; I could probably cry thinking about it.
Queer Eye, season 5. Queer Eye is content that will fuel your soul and your ability to believe in the good of the world, I swear. Seeing the heroes and the care that the Fab 5 devote to each is an instant boost of serotonin. Much like all of the other season, the heroes chosen are absolutely incredible people and truly inspire me to go out and do better. Queer Eye is this perfect balance of heartfelt, inspiring moments and snarky humor. If you’ve somehow missed out on this show, you need to drop everything right now and give it a watch.
Love, Victor. Are you kidding me?! As a fan of Simon Vs. and Love, Simon, I was more than ready for this series. It was a bit of a rollercoaster to get here (between Disney dropping the show and Hulu picking it up), but I’m so happy to have finally watched it. I can admit with complete confidence that while I was watching Love, Victor, I was only thinking about Love, Victor. The characters were lovely and realistic – as “realistic” as they can be when we’re talking about YA characters based off of a fictional universe. There were moments filled with self-discovery, moments filled with self-doubt, and I loved every single one of them. As far as teenage contemporary stories are concerned, this is exactly what you want and need in your life.
Also, Felix is a wonderful character, and I really just want to be his best friend.
Be More Chill. Based on a friends’ recommendation, I finally sat down and listened to the Be More Chill soundtrack straight through! From just the music alone, it’s easy to tell that this story is so remnant within our culture. Sure, on the forefront, it’s about a high school “nerd” that wants to fit in and takes this super powerful pill that’s essentially a new voice in his head and tells him exactly what to do to be more chill. But the themes of mental health and fitting in are super potent, and I think it’s an incredible story for absolutely anyone. As of right now, my favorite songs are “Be More Chill (Pt. 1),” “Michael in the Bathroom,” and “Voices in My Head.” “Michael in the Bathroom” is a superior song, and that’s all I have to say on that.
Malka from Paper Procrastinators discussed her reasons of why it took her so long to listen to an audiobook, and I found myself relating to so many points she made. I recently just got into audiobooks (thanks PJO) and enjoyed them for more reasons than just because it’s read by some of my favorite Broadway actors.
Kay over at Hammock of Books shared an incredible post about how you can reclaim Harry Potter and still love the series without supporting J.K. Rowling. I absolutely loved this post and loved the helpful tips that Kay offered. Countless people site Harry Potter as being a huge part of their childhood, and it’s earth shattering when that part of your life no longer feels safe or welcome. Please take a look at her post to find out how you can still be a fan, an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and how you can avoid supporting an author with harmful and flat-out wrong opinions!
Nish and Ngoc from Nish & Ngoc’s Book Nook put together an incredible post outlining every way you can help the Black Lives Matter movement if you don’t have the funds to donate in a more traditional way. I really wanted to share this post because I know that it can be easy to feel helpless if you don’t have the tools to do everything that you want to do. By watching a few videos, signing some petitions, and educating ourselves, we can make the strides necessary to live in a world that actually promises freedom and equality for every single living human being.
Sofii from A Book. A Thought. not only shared more resources on how to help the Black Lives Matter movement, but she also shared 2020 releases by Black authors so we can offer as much support as possible. Again, the links and resources Sofii provided are crucial. And, if you’re in the market for a new release, definitely check out some of her suggested titles.
Caitlin over at Caitlin Athea posted all of her thoughts on blog hopping and her blog hopping process. I’ve admitted to it somewhat recently, but my blog hopping game hasn’t been very strong so I found myself loving this post!
Margaret from Weird Zeal curated a list of 40+ queer books by Black authors to support during Pride Month. And sure, it’s no longer June, but who’s to say we can’t celebrate Pride year round? Again, this is a fantastic list of books and I’m so excited to add a bunch to my TBR!