Reading Wrap Up

Reading Wrap Up: November & October

Good fics, bad books, DNFs, and a New Year’s resolution that came early

These past two months have been both good and bad reading months. Good, because I read so many great fanfics, and bad because I’ve read or DNF’d so many bad published books. Funny how that works. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, or maybe the books I was reading weren’t to my taste, but either way, here’s an overview.

Original (Trad Published) Works

The Caraval Series by Stephanie Garber

In anticipation of my copy of Once Upon a Broken Heart (by the same author, in the same world) to arrive, I decided to give the Caraval series a go. And while it was entertaining for a bit, I’m not at all impressed by these books.

First off, they are very YA. Which makes sense because the book is meant for young adults, but I haven’t read much of this genre recently so the style really surprised me. Aside from that, the world is very loosely built, the mystery predictable and the main characters annoying. I didn’t like Scarlett (the main character of the first book) because she made stupid decisions (even for a teenager) and I liked her sister Tella even less because she was just stupid.

That said, I did have a bit of fun. These are the kind of books that allow you to turn your brain off completely. I didn’t even try reading the third book though.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of V. E. Schwab, but I so want to be. After finishing Addie LaRue, I bought copies of A Darker Shade of Magic and This Savage Song, hoping to read (and love) them. But I kept delaying it.

A few weeks ago, I decided to finally get started with A Darker Shade, and it was just not working for me. I’m not saying that the book is bad because it really isn’t; the writing is good, and the world constructed very well. But I could not get into it.

Generally, I think that there is something missing for me to like it. Technically, it’s a good book, but it’s lacking that spark I need to get really pulled into the story. I will give it another try at some point, but I’m abandoning it for now.

Boy Parts by Eliza Clark

Reading Wrap Up: boy parts

I did not expect to like this book so much. However, “like” is probably not the best term here, simply because the themes of Boy Parts aren’t something to be liked. Rather, I liked how the author wrote about them.

The main character of Boy Parts is probably one of the best written horrible characters ever. She’s awful, despicable, but oh-so-fun to follow and read about. The story itself is quite gross. There are a lot of vivid descriptions of vomiting and similar things (I swear, I felt that hangover on page one), so please be mindful of that.

But all in all, I really enjoyed this horrible little book, and I’m now extremely excited for Penance (another book by the author).

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Reading Wrap Up: once upon a broken heart

As mentioned, I really wanted to read this. It sounded like something that would be up my alley. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. But I was so excited initially that I bought both the first part and the second part physical copies. Fortunately, I didn’t get those really expensive special editions.

My biggest issue with this book is that things kept happening. Horrible things, good things, but at no point did I ever feel anything. In the short span of about 80 pages (that’s how far I got), the main character’s father dies, her boyfriend gets engaged with her half sister, she gets turned to stone, her father’s store gets sold without her consent, she becomes the most desirable woman in the country, she meets the queens, she travels to another country and meets the prince.

I’m tired just listing all of these things. And at no point do we stop to dwell on things, for the main character to sit with her feelings. It just powers on.

Aside from that, the main character is very naive and the writing style just didn’t work for me, much like in Caraval. I’ll have to read it at some point because I have the books on my shelf, but probably not soon.

Assistant to The Villain, by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

Reading Wrap Up: assistant to the villain

I don’t honestly know why I started this, but it seemed like a fun little book. To some people, maybe it was, but not to me. It’s very cringe. I DNF’d it after only a few pages so I don’t have a lot to say. The author took all of the romantasy stereotypes and shoved them in one book without developing the characters or the world. I later learned that this book is based on a TikTok series of skits, and that tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

Reading Wrap Up: divine rivals

I have a full review on this here if you’re interested in a very long and somewhat mean rant. But long story short, this book is just very boring and nonsensical. The writing is robotic, the romance bland, and the world completely lacking. I didn’t finish it, but I did get to about 40% and couldn’t continue due to extreme boredom. Pity I got the pretty hardback version.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Reading Wrap Up: a good girl's guide to murder

And the award for the book that got me out of my awful, no-good reading slump goes to… A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder! 

I started it on a random Saturday and finished it in one sitting (a very long sitting, admittedly, but still). What more could you ask of a YA thriller?

True, the writing is not the best (I actually preferred the writing in Pip’s project entries), but the storyline is quite entertaining. Unrealistic, yes, but entertaining. So if you suspend your disbelief just enough, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. 

At one point, there are far too many suspects, and for some of them it’s obvious that they’re not guilty, even though Pip insists they are. Trigger warning that the dog dies, which was sad, but again, with the way it was written, I didn’t feel too affected by it, even though my own dog died just a few weeks ago. 

Plus, the book doesn’t end in any sort of a cliffhanger, so you don’t feel forced to continue the series. I’ll probably pick it up sometime in the future. 

Reading Wrap Up: Fanfiction

Running on Air

Link: Here

If you read one single fanfic in your entire life, I beg you to make it this one. I avoided it for so long because I thought it was sad and maybe too long, but I was wrong on all accounts.

The story follows grown up Harry Potter working in the Auror Department, Investigative Division, where he mostly works on cold cases. He’s engaged to Ginny and while he’s not happy in his life, he’s fine being just content. That’s when a new case drops on his table, and it’s none other than Draco Malfoy’s. He went missing three years ago, and it’s up to Harry to find him.

So Harry starts looking through people’s memories of him, and slowly starts piecing his story together, all the while falling in love with what he sees.

The writing in this one is exquisite. You will get pulled into a story like you’d get pulled into a Pensieve. It’s extremely cinematic and poignant.

The romance isn’t at the forefront of the story, though. It’s more about finding yourself, figuring out what you want from life, finding out who you are. And there is no smut at all, which I always appreciate.

One of my favorite aspects of this fic is that you can tell Harry is falling in love with Draco even though it’s never once outright mentioned outright. Chef’s kiss, great fic.

In addition to this, I read a bunch of shorter fics (went on a binge one lazy Sunday), and while I did like them, they were either not very memorable or not written that well.

Reading Wrap Up: Final Thoughts

I’ll probably talk about this more in a different post, but if these past two months have taught me anything, it’s that I should lay off romantasy and especially YA romantasy. I’m not sure if I’ll listen to my own advice, but I’ll do my best.

I feel like I’m outgrowing these genres or that I never really liked them enough. The one romantasy book I can remember liking is ACOMAF and that was like three years ago (and under extreme duress of being in a hospital when I read it). I’ve not liked a single romantasy book I read since.

I’m also hoping for a better reading experience in December. While I don’t have a specific TBR, and . would find it stressful if I did, I’m looking forward to enjoying some great books in the future.

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