Books, Real Life

July Wrap-Up: Using ice on my vagus nerve 24/7

Well. It’s been a couple of weeks, that’s for sure.

I have been trying to ward off full-on panic for about a month with mixed success.

As I mentioned in my last post, my brain is soup.

One good thing happened last month: my niece Josie was born.

She and my sister-in-law are doing great so far, it sounds like.

I got to see them and give Josie a giant Squishmallow.

A stuffed panda wearing a blue bunny costume
It was this one. He is very soft.

I’m glad she’s finally here because I was stressed out of my mind.

In other news, I beat the main story in Hades.

I’ve also started writing again since finishing school.

I’m finding ways to cope. I’m just tired.

I read a few books, I think.

July Reading Stats

In July, I completed 11 books.

Of the books I read,

  • 73% were fiction
  • 27% were non-fiction
  • 55% were physical books
  • 45% were audiobooks
  • 18% were Young Adult
  • 82% were Adult
  • 100% were new books

According to my genre pie chart, I read queer romance books along with a large cross-section of other genres. I have no memory of this.

July 2022 Genre Breakdown pie chart

I read a lot of emotional books, which might explain my current reading slump.

July 2022 Reading Moods pie chart

Regarding my average monthly rating: I read some incredible books and found some new favorites.

I also read some books I absolutely despised.

The four books I rated 3.5 stars and under dragged the monthly rating down.

July 2022 Star Ratings bar graph

I will MOST certainly be talking about the books that let me down in Notable Books.

Notable Books

I read a few books last month I enjoyed, I promise.

This month’s Notable Books won’t reflect that.

I guess I thought that after The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones couldn’t let me down.

INCORRECT.

I finally read My Heart is a Chainsaw and felt mostly underwhelmed.

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

I don’t even know what to criticize. A lot of what I disliked was intentional. I understood what the book was trying to say about trauma and survival.

I just wish the author had gone a different route with it.

The protagonist’s adherence to denial and the plot’s refusal to progress really hampered the story for me.

When the Big Slasher Showdown finally happened, I kept getting taken out of it by Jade’s inner monologue.

I needed her to feel something, not just observe things.

Other readers have praised this book for its depiction of trauma. It just didn’t hit for me.

I read the long-awaited On Rotation the DAY it came out.

On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi

I was SO excited for this one.

Parts of it I still really like. The humor is excellent. The side characters are strong. I loved the focus on family and finding your calling.

Too bad about the romance.

I’m going to type out the romance set-up. Stop reading when your blood pressure spikes:

Ricky approaches a crying Angie in the park. He asks if she’s alright, then asks if he can draw her. They hit it off and spend the rest of the day at a nearby street fair where Ricky buys Angie a Water Tribe PROPOSAL necklace. At the end of the day, Angie asks for Ricky’s number, only for him to say, “Oh, sorry, I’m seeing someone. I’m sorry you misinterpreted.”

This happens in the FIRST COUPLE OF CHAPTERS.

The two keep running into each other because “fate,” I guess. Everyone who sees them interact comments on how into each other they seem, despite Ricky having a LONG-TERM girlfriend.

Ricky repeatedly tells Angie he just wants to be friends and actually calls her full of herself for assuming he was hitting on her.

The mixed messages continue UNTIL THE END OF THE BOOK.

RICKY PICKS FIGHTS AT RESTAURANTS. HE GOES AWOL FOR DAYS AT A TIME. WHEN ANGIE ASKS RICKY TO DEFINE THEIR RELATIONSHIP, RICKY TELLS HER, “I DON’T KNOW THAT I’M INTERESTED IN A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP RIGHT NOW,” AFTER HYPING HER UP FOR WEEKS.

I understand difficult life transitions! I understand feeling embarrassed and ashamed about your circumstances! I DON’T understand consistently treating someone poorly, then getting mad at THEM for it.

I seriously can’t believe ANGIE had to experience character development to land a relationship with THIS guy.

Romance novels have been pretty hit-or-miss for me lately and this one sent my interest in the genre down the tubes.

I’m just so bummed. ROMANCE IS BETTER THAN THIS. WHY ARE WE SETTLING FOR RICKIES???

I started Hell Followed With Us, DNFed it during a gory scene, picked it back up when my curiosity got too strong, then read straight through to the end.

Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White

This book made me sob.

It’s…perhaps strange to say that a book about body horror, the apocalypse, and cults made me feel seen.

For such a violent book, Hell Followed With Us is surprisingly tender.

I have a soft spot for queer kids doing their best to survive, and these kids fight SO hard.

The juxtaposition of transness and monstrosity was really well done. I also loved that there was an autistic POV character whose chapters delved into masking and social rules.

Andrew Joseph White is an incredible writer. I’m so grateful this book exists.

I read all of Yerba Buena and didn’t feel much of anything.

Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour

This has been the case for the last few Nina LaCour books I’ve read. We Are Okay didn’t really land for me and while Watch Over Me made me cry, it didn’t leave a lasting impression.

I got hit with WAY more trauma in the first 40 pages than I either wanted or expected.

The buildup to the romance was longer than the actual romance.

At the end of the day, this was a book I read and probably won’t think about much in the future.

I started a mystery called Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies that opens with the main character poisoning an off-brand Brock Turner with a magic pie. Incredible opener, 10/10.

Murder, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

Said main character runs a successful pie business and kills abusers on the side for free.

This is an incredible premise.

It was not an incredible book.

Though I love a “revenge-murdering abusers” plot, I wish books like these would explore the nuances of domestic abuse.

Eliminating cis men does not eliminate abuse; domestic and other types of abuse can be perpetrated by marginalized genders.

I don’t think the view of abuse that most authors have takes into account the specific effects abuse has on women of color, immigrant women, and trans people.

Also, while physical and sexual abuse are serious and SHOULD be discussed, other types of abuse exist. “Friends” and authority figures can commit psychological abuse. Employers can commit financial abuse. Some communities encourage things like emotional abuse as a means of keeping people in line. The spectrum of abuse is, unfortunately, VERY BROAD.

With all that in mind, I am BAFFLED that this book spent its page time discussing whether women should enjoy things like baking or wearing dresses.

Is this REALLY the most pressing issue facing marginalized genders???

I scanned the Goodreads reviews hoping someone else would bring this up. Instead, I read dozens of reviews criticizing this book for being “too woke.”

Books like this make me feel like I’m losing it.

I don’t have specific thoughts about Love, Hate & Clickbait, just a giant block of feelings and screaming.

Love, Hate & Clickbait by Liz Bowery

The character development in this was so satisfying. I wept over this book.

Also, it’s rare that I enjoy a book where the characters are this mean. These characters were JERKS and I ended up caring about them SOMEHOW.

I’ve read a lot of memoirs and books of essays this year. Girls Can Kiss Now is my favorite of all of them.

Girls Can Kiss Now by Jill Gutowitz

I felt represented both as a queer Swiftie and as someone who struggles with my mental health.

Books of essays that go this deep aren’t usually this funny and books this funny aren’t usually so vulnerable.

This book was a much-needed dose of hope and hilarity during a tough month. It rivals Greedy for my favorite book of the year. I loved it so much.

That was July. I spent the first week of August recovering from all that.

I have been thinking about Star Rat a lot. Look at them.

A blue star-patterned stuffed rat

Hope you’re all having an okay August and are surviving whatever weather patterns your particular clime is experiencing.

Stay cool.

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