My month-long birthday celebration officially ends today.
DARN YOU, FEBRUARY.
Then again, I do love seeing the pink-and-red decorations at the cupcake shop. The Harley Quinn movie comes out next week, the Oscars on the 9th, and in two weeks I have Valentine’s plans with some of my favorite bois!
Before I get to all that, time to recap last month’s reading revels.
GET READY FOR GRAPHS.
In the month of January, I completed 19 books and only DNFed 1 book.
Of the 20 total books I read during the month,
- 25% were Young Adult
- 75% were Adult
- 80% were new books (i.e., books I’d never read before)
- 5% were continuations (i.e., books I’d started in 2019)
- 15% were rereads
I made graphs of the types and genres of books I read.
I almost never read poetry, so it’s unusual to see a slice this large in my monthly pie.
It’s been a goal of mine to read more graphic novels, and look! 25% isn’t too bad!
APPARENTLY I READ QUITE A BIT OF SCI-FI, which was news to me.
(Of note, the only book I DNFed this month was sci-fi.)
I read a classic novel (an almost unheard of event) and ENJOYED IT.
I also read one contemporary fiction novel and REGRETTED IT.
Updated Rating System
Before this year, I didn’t rate books using the star system.
Then an acquaintance convinced me to start using Goodreads and GOODREADS USES STARS.
This is my interpretation of the five-star system:
Five Stars: I love this book more than anything in the universe. It crushed my very heart and soul and moved me in ways I can’t explain. I want to tell everyone I know to read this book.
Four Stars: I really enjoyed this book! If I purchased a copy of this book, it’s definitely one I’m going to keep! If I borrowed this book, I’m considering buying a copy.
Three Stars: This book was…fine. I enjoyed it for the most part, but I didn’t find it very memorable. This is either a book with not much to recommend it or a book that could have been excellent but for a few problematic elements.
Two Stars: What a letdown. I finished this for the plot, but felt frustrated the entire time. One or more things about it made me furious. This should have been so much better than it was.
One Star: Are you JOKING? A human being wrote this tripe/proliferated these views/abused these tropes/encouraged dangerous stereotypes? Take this book and burn it. The world deserves better.
Notable Books (and a few films)
Dark Horse Favorites
Black Moon Rising by Frankie Rose
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
Cats dir. by Tom Hooper
Ex Machina dir. by Alex Gardner
HEY, DID YOU READ ALL THE CATS POSTS I WROTE LAST MONTH? YOU SHOULD. I love Cats with all my heart and have been telling everyone I meet to watch it. Once I get the DVD in my hot little hands, MOVIE NIGHTS AT MY PLACE. (Just kidding, my apartment is so small.)
If you like science fiction and hot men who were in Star Wars, I HIGHLY recommend Ex Machina. Non-monosexual viewers will enjoy its gorgeous cast, including Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson and dancers Alicia Vikander and Sonoya Mizuno. This movie should have won awards for its dance scene. So, so good.
Black Moon Rising was the silly, frothy, sci-fi adventure I wanted but didn’t get in December. This book made my month and perhaps my year.
Though it took me a LONG TIME to finish it, I can say that I LOVED The Merciful Crow. The resolution was gorgeous.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (reread)
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (reread)
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Two of the books I reread this month were books I’d been pretty “meh” about the first time through. I enjoyed them much more the second time around!
The other two books were from genres I don’t normally read with content warnings I generally avoid. Despite this, Annihilation and Ninth House were both four-star reads for me.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
Shrill by Lindy West
Something New by Lucy Knisley (reread)
Little Women dir. by Greta Gerwig
Lindy West reeled me in with her jokes and pummeled me with her social commentary. I read both of her books this month and cried both times.
My friends want to watch Little Women again. I don’t want to cry again for two straight hours.
Something New makes me cry every time I read it. I adore this book.
The Merciful Crow was already a new favorite…and then it made me cry. My heart was so warm when I finished it.
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente (DNF)
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern
Weathering With You dir. by Makoto Shinkai
I want to talk about Bloodlust and Bonnets for a second. I expected to give this book five stars. I kicked my rating down to four stars – while it was fun, it didn’t have that something extra that my favorite books have.
I lost confidence in my four-star rating the more I read. Bloodlust and Bonnets is hilarious and I love the characters…but there’s no plot. More notably, the characters keep commenting on the lack of plot, which makes the pages of filler all the more egregious.
So now I’m in a weird spot. Overall I loved B&B and would recommend it…but I’m also incredibly frustrated by its plotlessness.
You, Too?: 25 Voices Share Their #MeToo Stories edited by Janet Gurtler
I try not to use the words “good” or “bad” when I review books.
People have different tastes and standards and I don’t want to shame anyone for liking a book I hated.
I’m going to break my own rule to talk about this anthology.
The writing in You, Too? is ASTONISHINGLY BAD.
Almost every one of these essays read like a “scare ’em straight” story for youngsters or like one of the cliche-ridden inspirational stories the Gideons tell for fundraising purposes.
I found it hard to connect with the stories when I kept stumbling on phrases like, “I remember it like it was yesterday,” and, “That was a day I would never forget.”
It almost felt like the anthologist gave each author a strict fill-in-the-blanks outline, then accepted each submission WITHOUT EDITING THEM.
The tone was all over the place: it was hard to know who the intended audience was supposed to be with the amateurish writing and explicit content.
Many of the essays ended with tacked-on morals that offered some TRULY BAD ADVICE.
You CANNOT guarantee readers (especially younger readers) that law enforcement, organizations, or authority figures will help them. Yes, if someone rapes you or harasses you or makes you uncomfortable, PLEASE tell somebody. Unfortunately, as has been proven time and time again, people in power don’t always listen.
Sadly, many times rape and sexual assault survivors have to help themselves. (Several authors pointed this out, which I appreciated.)
This anthology was just a mess. I didn’t think it did enough to challenge rape culture or the systems that allow sexual harassment to take place. I thought there was a bit too much sympathy for perpetrators at victims’ expense.
In short, I hated this book. I almost DNFed it several times; by the end, I wished I had.
Instead of reading this, opt for
- The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
- Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay
- Becoming Dangerous: Witchy Femmes, Queer Conjurers, and Magical Rebels
You, Too? did have two fantastic essays.
I highly recommend the essays by Mackenzi Lee and Saundra Mitchell. I wish the entire book had met the standard these essays set.
All right, fam. On to February.
Let’s see how much writing I get done.