Top Ten Tuesday: Fantasy Standalones I Adored & Recommend [Part 2!]

TTT pretty design(30)

This week TTT turns 10, so the theme is to either re-do/update a TTT list you did before, or do a topic you missed in the past. To celebrate TTT’s birthday (or would it be anniversary?!?), I’ve decided to do a part 2 to the list of my Favorite Fantasy Standalones that I completed two years ago, because honestly, who isn’t forever looking for fantasy standalones? As much as I love the immense page time a series provides with their characters, sometimes (ok, most times) I’m lazy and don’t wanna commit to a full series. I know I’m not alone in struggling with series, which is why I wanted to recommend these great fantasy standalones!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


1. Ash by Malinda Lo

6472451

A lesbian retelling of Cinderella–do you really need to know more? After 8-9 years, I finally reread this book in May, and I adored it SO MUCH MORE than I remembered. Yes, it’s a bit simplistic (and aimed at younger YA readers), but I think it fits the fairytale vibe/voice. This was truly a beautiful tale.
(It also has a companion book, but I haven’t read it and I think they only relate in the sense that they’re in the same world.)

2. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

48510870. sy475

I binged-read this entire eARC in a little over 24 hours and literally finished it only 2 days ago, but it most definitely deserves a place on this list! This book is incredible in that it starts out making you think it’s one type of story, then completely does a 180. It’s inspired by Persian mythology and Zoroastrianism, contains lots of fun demons & monsters, and even has a sapphic rommance! Plus, if you love your YA girls with a touch that can kill, this book is for you. [Releases July 7th!]

3. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

19351043. sx318 sy475

Technically a graphic novel, but regardless, it’s an incredible read! It’s plays with the concept of heroes, villains, and monsters and turns them on their heads. Plus, it’s by Noelle Stevenson aka the amazing creator that brought us She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (of which I still need to see the 5th season, shhh)!

4. The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

36332136. sy475

This book was twisty, bizarre, and a bit creepy, but oh so intriguing. To be honest, I’m not sure I fully understand half of what went on, but it was such a unique take on Beowulf. Definitely gives ya food for thought.

5. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

31522415

Cheating a bit here since this is technically a collection of short stories, but I consumed this entire collection like candy and I can’t help but keep pushing it at people! Arimah’s tales are a mix of contemporary, fantasy, and sci-fi, all inspired by Nigerian culture and mythology. Unforgettable stories that will take up permanent residence in your mind.

6. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

32793053

It’s by Jason Reynolds, need I say more? Just kidding 😉 This book is not a Spider-Man origin story, but more so a Miles Morales origin story. Villains aren’t limited to crazy monsters, but appear in the forms of systemic racism, oppression, and discrimination. There are still superheroics, but this book doesn’t let you forget that Miles is also an Afro-Latinx teenage boy facing everyday problems.

7. A Million Junes by Emily Henry

30763950

Also cheating a bit with this one since it’s technically magical realism, but at the same time there is a lot of magic that occurs, so perhaps it really is contemporary fantasy?! This book is simultaneously quirky, hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic. I was definitely teary-eyed by the end. Who doesn’t love feuding families, a forbidden romance, and a fatal curse? (But I would also like to state that it’s so much more than those things.)

8. Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster

18716722

Technically a prequel/companion to City of a Thousand Dolls, but it also functions as a standalone. Featuring a tiger shifter, loyal friends who would die to protect each other, and a romance, I adored this book as a teen!

9. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

455933

Okay, it’s been a super long time since I technically read this, but I remember it having great fairytale vibes. An unwanted girl who gets locked in a chest, gets transported to a fairy world for a day, only to still be alive when her horrible family unlocks the chest years later. And something about a stuffed alligator coming to life? Idk, but I think I just convinced myself to reread this after I finish this post…

10. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

44646004. sy475

An NA romantic fantasy featuring demons and kisses that chip away at your soul! It was a super fun and quick read and you can read my full review here.


What fantasy standalones have you loved and would recommend? Did I convince ya to read any of the ones I mentioned? Do you prefer standalones or series?

If you participated in TTT this week, feel free to link up your post in the comments below–I would love to check them out!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: (Belated) Spring 2020 TBR

TTT pretty design(27)

Okay, technically this week’s subject is “Ten Signs You’re a Book Lover,” but I totally missed posting my Spring TBR 2 weeks ago, and I can’t let a seasonal TBR post go by, even if I’m a bit late in posting it and even tho I only ever sorta follow my TBRs (is that sign #1 I’m a book lover? lol).

Also wow, it’s been so long since I’ve last written a TTT post! Usually I aim to participate at least once a month, but it’s been almost two full months (I think my last one was on Feb. 4, which technically still follows my goal, but it was still so loooong ago).

I was kinda up in the air about what I wanted to read for awhile, so I organized my thoughts by dividing my TBR into a bunch of sub-categories. It was really helpful, tho it resulted in me listing a wide variety of books, from YA to erotica to Sci-Fi, so bear with me!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


Books I Own & I’m Excited to Pick Up:

1. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

42201395

Magic, libraries, and monsters? I acquired this book last summer, and I don’t know how I haven’t read it yet. (sign #2??)

2. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

27774758. sy475

This will be a reread for me! Ever since I read the first book, I’ve been meaning to return to the series (I’m horrible at finishing series–sign #3 I’m a book nerd??). And now with the 4th book coming out in December, this will be the year for me to finally catch up on this series, so I need to start back at book 1!

Some ARCs I Want to Get Around To:

3. Lobizona by Romina Garber

51179882. sx318 sy475

Release Date: May 5th, 2020

I’ve been horrible about reviewing books in a timely manner, but I’m determined to stay on top of this one! (says all book people. Sign #4??)

4. A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

45046606

Release Date: January 21st, 2020

Whoops, a bit behind on this one. Luckily, I won it in a giveaway, so I don’t feel too bad about not having picked it up yet, but I still wanna sometime this spring!

5. Two Girls, A Clock, and Crooked House by Michael Poore

43330284

Release Date: September 10th, 2019

Snagged an ARC of this one like a year ago, and still haven’t read it, eek! But it sounds cute, light, fun, and it’s MG, so now feels like the perfect time to read it! (If you follow me, you’ve seen this on a lot of my TBR posts, whoops)

Books from the Library:

6. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

33224061

Was suppose to read this for part of a book club and even though I haven’t started it yet, I still wanna pick it up!

7. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

31625039. sy475

Been eyeing this one for the past couple of years, and now that I have it checked out from the library for awhile, I want to pick it up after my semester ends!

8. The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill

42369064

Everything Katie O’Neill creates is so pure and adorable and I’m determined to read all of her graphic novels!

Books to Read before my Kindle Unlimited Trial Ends:

9. Smut by Karina Halle

29381926. sy475

A smutty romance novel about two creative writing students who write smut together and fall in love? I’ve been drooling over this book since I first heard of it, so I’m determined to read it before my Kindle Unlimited trial ends!

10. Aftershocks by Marko Kloos

41211815. sx318

Now this normally isn’t the type of book I gravitate towards, but 47North was kind enough to send me an ARC of the sequel, so I want to give the first book a try.


That’s it for my Spring TBR! Fingers crossed I can get around to most of these!?! What books are you hoping to read this spring? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned above?

If you participated in TTT this week (or posted a Spring TBR 2 weeks ago, haha), feel free to link up your post in the comments below–I would love to check them out!

May Wrap-Up: I’m on Summer Break & I’ve Been Reading SO MUCH

monthly wrap up

I’m so happy; I ACTUALLY READ THIS MONTH, and a fair amount of books at that! And not one, but TWO of them are books I’ve been regularly putting on TBRs for over a year now?!? Who am I? I managed to read 9 books this month, which is not quite the 10 I was aiming for, but I’m still super proud of myself considering I only read 2 books last month.

Though stressful at times, May has been a well need month. My semester wrapped up at the end of April, so May began my summer. With a lot of free time, I got in a lot of needed reading time. I also had my birthday this month (I still can’t believe I’m 21!). I also returned to my summer job from the previous year.

Alas tho, between participating in Camp NaNo in April and my eagerness to read, I barely got around to writing this month. I have so many books that I want to read in June, but I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to achieve a better balance between writing & reading in the coming month (AKA bribe myself with wine, coffee, or honeycomb cereal to write).


BOOKS READ:

1. Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir & Steenz

Rating: 3.25 stars

I won a copy of this graphic novel over a year ago in a Goodreads giveaway and I finally read it! I was completed invested in the mystery of this book and I appreciated it’s focus on mental health, but I really wish the ending had been fleshed out more. You can read my complete review here!

2. Myths & Mortals by Charlie N. Holmberg

Rating: 2.5 stars

This is the sequel to Smoke & Summons, which I participated in the blog tour for back in February. The sequel was interesting, but continued with a lot of the problems I saw in the first book. You can see more of my thoughts here!

3. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Rating: 3.75 stars

So I may or may not have binge read this entire book in a day (I did). It was super cute and OMG I LOVE STELLA SO MUCH. I really enjoyed the romance, though I will say that I found Michael annoying at times. There were so many instances where he said/thought/did something possessive and it disappointed me.
I can’t wait to pick up the companion though!

4. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 5 stars

I FINALLY READ KOA AND OMGGGGG. Even though I took a week to read this book (it’s already kind of blur), but I couldn’t stop screeching/crying/laughing as I read it. It still hasn’t hit me that the series is actually over. I loved seeing everyone reunite and despite it’s length, the book never failed to captivate my attention.
I can’t wait until I can get my hands on another SJM book!

5. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Rating: 3.5 stars

One of my unofficial goals for the summer is to try to read more MG! I read this book for the Dragons & Tea Book Club and it was so much fun! I adored the magic and Min & her pals were freaking hilarious!

6. An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Rating: 2.5 stars

Argh, this book was disappointment. It was decently crafted and the magic was cool, but I struggled with the writing style, characters, and pacing. You can read my full review here.

7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4 stars

After putting this book on way too many TBR lists, I finally read it and adored it! I’m a total sucker for superheros, especially origin stories, and of course, Leigh Bardugo did not disappoint! I fricking loved seeing Diana’s development and grow into her own strength over the book. I will say tho that I found the antagonist at the end to be a stretch and the ending to be rushed. I wanna know more about what happened to Diana & her friends (I adored them so much)!

8. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Illustrated by Chris Riddell

Rating: 4 stars

Is it sad that this was technically my first Neil Gaiman book? This illustrated retelling of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White was so beautiful and refreshing. I adored how Gaiman managed to interweave their stories while infusing them with new twists. I wish I could have gotten more of this world!

9. The Living God by Kaytalin Platt

Rating: 2 stars

I just finished this book today, and yep, it was another disappointment. I had such high hopes for it with its pretty cover and opening scene, but I quickly found the ensuing pages lacking the depth and epic-ness that I wanted. Full review to come early June!


JUNE TBR:

In support of Pride month, I’m of course going to try to read lots of books with queer rep, so The Song of Achilles, The Princess and the Fangirl, and Final Draft are my top priorities! (Fingers crossed The Song of Achilles comes in on time for me at the library). Enchantress Uncover is an eARC I was suppose to read, oh, by the middle of March, whoops. And The Last Time I Lied in a book one of my best friends just read and she wants me to read it so we can compare thoughts.

Other Potential Reads:

BUT WAIT, I could also read The Girls of Paper and Fire! And They Both Die at the End! And I have an eARC of Shatter the Sky, which has an f/f romance! Hmmm, yeah, might switch this out for that other ARC…

Ahhh, why are there so many books I want to read in June??


RANDOM UPDATES:

  • I turned 21 this month and can now legally drink! Cheers!

Keri at a restaurant with a drink in hand

  • I returned to the same summer job as last year (grounds crew AKA mowing and weed-whacking). Kinda sad tho because I was the only one of the summer crew to return.
    • Regardless of the new workers, the guys are still very redneck-esque and slightly sexist, but ya know, that’s to be expected. I mostly tune them out and keep my nose stuck in a book. 😂
  • I met up with some friends from high school and we went out and saw the new live-action Aladdin movie!
    • I really enjoyed the remake and adored how empowering they made Jasmine’s character (though it was rather blunt and forced, but shhh). The movie was really fun and nostalgic and definitely a must see for Disney lovers!
  • I barely wrote this month. I think my grand total for the month was a measly 1,200 words AKA virtually nothing (and pathetically the same length as this post). My writing buddy and I are planning on doing a writing challenge in June, so hopefully I’ll write a lot more then!
  • I got more free books sent to me! My professor sent me books to read for the summer as part of an internship I’m doing with her. I haven’t actually started the work for this internship, but I can’t wait to do so!

How was your May? What books are you planning on reading in June? Have you seen the new Aladdin movie? If you’re a student, are you out for the summer yet?

If you did a wrap-up post, feel free to link it in the comments; I would love to read it!

Review: Archival Quality

Are you my book_(2)

***I received this book free from a Goodreads giveaway***

36140710ARCHIVAL QUALITY

by Ivy Noelle Weir & Steenz

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal

Format: Graphic Novel

Publisher: Oni Press

 

 

Despite being a paranormal mystery, this graphic novel has such colorful cute artwork and I adored it! I read the entire thing in two sittings and I can’t believe I didn’t pick it up sooner (I won it from a Goodreads giveaway over a year ago, whoops).

Archival Quality follows, Cel, a young woman recently fired from job as a librarian after having a mental breakdown at work, as she tries to pick herself back up and move forward by accepting a job at the Logan Museum. But weird things quickly begin to happen as she assumes her role as the archivist. Things in the museum begin to move of their own accord and she starts losing time. Not to mention, Cel’s dreams are haunted by a woman who she has never met. Cel becomes desperate to find out what this woman wants, because she believes helping her will allow Cel to also help herself.

First off, I was totally enthralled by the mystery in this book! With each new incident, I became more and more curious to figure out how Cel was connected to the ghost, what was up with the Logan Museum, and how Cel was going to help.

And of course I loved diversity and themes of this book! The majority of characters are people of color, there’s a f/f side character couple, and depression and mental illness play a big role in the story. I have a relative who is currently struggling with mental illness, and I saw a lot of parallels between their experience and Cel’s (e.g. the breakdowns, spurts of uncontrolled anger, lashing out at those trying to help, not wanting to take medication/see someone for help). I wish they read, so I could ask them if they’d be interested in picking this book up.

I think the biggest thing that prevented me from rating this graphic novel higher was the ending. The ending felt rushed and overly simplified. I was left with many questions and confused on what exactly had happened. This perhaps stemmed from the fact that the worldbuilding remained very ambiguous in relation to its supernatural elements.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I wish I could have had more pages with Cel and her companions. I think Archival Quality could have been much more praiseworthy if there had been more time spent on the ending and the history/workings of the museum. Despite this though, I would recommend giving this book a try if you’re looking to read more graphic novels involving mental health and/or ghosts.

Trigger Warnings: mental illness, depression, breakdowns, abuse of mental health patients in historic asylums, collection of human body parts

Rating: 3.25 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m an interesting read, but not fleshed out enough to be a new favorite.”