JULY WRAP UP | A Wonderful, Terrible Month ft. More books by Asian authors!

July was a wonderful, terrible month. Tell me I’m not alone.

School has reached a tyrannical, dictatorial level, and yet my sanity still remains (perhaps because it was already whittled down to none in the first place) and I’ve found many incredible books by Asian authors especially! I’m feeling the mid-year blues, and anxiety towards the looming end-of-years I’ve spent my student years dreading. However, I’ve so much to be thankful for and look forward to, as usual better late than never, let’s go through July!

BOOKS READ

As mentioned, in July I read quite a number of books as opposed to my monthly average of about 4. This July I read 9 with many of them being highly anticipated reads many have been urging me to get to by Asian authors which aligns neatly with my goal to read more diversely this year!

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo [★★★½]

At first glance, The Night Tiger seems like your typical dual POV mystery, but as I ventured deeper into its depth, it revealed itself to be an atmospheric, complex and rather sensitive book that I loved! It follows Ji Lin a dressmaker as well as Ren a boy who has to fulfil his master’s last wish by finding his missing finger before 49 days are up such that his soul will not wander the earth. It’s set in 1930s colonial Malaya, somewhere very close to home (Singapore just below Malaya was under British rule as well during that period) and I loved how Choo brought it to life with the sights and most prominently the olden mythology, the one about tigers being central to the book. it’s a series of unfortunate events both on a physical and psychological plant littered with Chinese superstitions I grew up with, I would definitely recommend this historical fiction!

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He [★★★★]

The heavens must be smiling upon me for I adored Joan He’s The Ones We’re Meant to Find and now loved Descendant of the Crane. It’s a rather different story, one that is quiet, thoughtful and thrilling. The character arc, political intrigue and themes of morality and knowledge were incredibly fleshed out and the open ending both a genius and a pain. Definitely recommend this Asian YA fantasy! You can read my full review here!

The Silence of Bones by June Hur [★★★]

A historical mystery set in 1800s Korea? I expected to enjoy this and I’m pleased to say that I did! It was such a haunting, atmospheric, albeit slow-paced murder mystery. It captures Korea in that period where themes such as morality, feminism and many others were explored. It was truly balanced and had a satisfying conclusion to Seol’s character arc, thanks so much to Abby and Ashmita‘s enthusiasm for pushing me to get to this novel! I’ve gotten an ARC of June Hur’s 2022 novel The Red Palace so I’m excited for that!

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman [★★★]

Another one with a gorgeous cover, definitely a beautiful story of hope and one with a unique premise of AI and death, but one that disappointed in a few ways. The Infinity Courts promised meaningful themes such as morality, technology and death, while they were delivered, the way in which they were methodically drummed into readers’ minds through the same rhetorical questions and hypophora again and again and again was something I felt rather repetitive and irksome. The characterisation and conclusion were not the best as well but nevertheless it painted a wonderful world and I’ll be following the series with The Genesis Wars next year! You can read my full review here!

Jade War by Fonda Lee [★★★★]

Jade City was enthralling but Jade War, a completely different story (not really its a sequel but you know what I mean) and was just epic. The fierce and fervent war between the clans, the fever in book one suddenly expands to become an international affair, and the political intrigue was done brilliantly, once again balanced out well by all the drama. I’m honestly dead scared for Jade Legacy, yeah literally dead scared Fonda Lee is seriously vicious towards her characters man.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai [★★★★]

Do you know the feeling where you finish you book whereby your heart is full and eyes moist? The Mountains Sing was a beautiful, multigenerational tale that follows a family through various periods of history like the Land Reform, Vietnam War, Reunification of Vietnam. The dual narrative, coupled with themes of patriotism and loyalty, those hard hitting ones that come with war and suffering, yet enveloped by love and hope made this novel such a lyrically melancholic yet moving and resonant piece of historical fiction. I also learnt a lot about Vietnamese culture from The Mountains Sing, truly one that will stay in my heart!

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende [★½]

Ah and then we have a historical fiction that disappoints. I feel like I read a different book from everyone else. The historical context of this book covering the Spanish Civil War, histories and political climates of Spain and Chile were brilliantly interwoven into the story, but the characters were flat and the storytelling rather forced and verbose for the majority of the book.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal [★★★]

Cherry keeps urging everyone to read We Hunt the Flame and I finally did it! Honestly, this book was very emotionally draining in a good way, all the tension in the action and the characters were palpable. Though it took a while to take flight, I really savoured how dramatic it was towards the end. I much preferred Zafira’s POV over Nasir, whom I felt was sorely underdeveloped but as a whole I’m dying to find out where this duology leads!

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo [★★★]

Once again being frank I don’t remember much from Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. What I do recall in vivid detail would be how it made me feel. We follow the story of Kim Jiyoung’s life since her mother was expecting her all the way till 2016, both realistically and poignantly portrayed the blatant misogyny in society, reflective of the stories of countless other women… I remember reading the last few pages only to become so so angry. It’s a bleak story that ends with some semblance of hope but in the end we face the harsh reality. It was definitely such a hard hitting and important read, grateful that I picked it up.

TBR FOR AUGUST

Given that it’s already the middle of August coupled with the fact that my mood is the boss and that school is terrible I’m not confident of adhering to the TBR haha but here are a couple that I’m excited to get to!

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – I’ve heard so much about this historical novel, about the depth and emotion it conveys so I’m excited to experience it for myself.
  • The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker – A historical fantasy that deals with death and Japanese mythology, how could I not be exuberant over its existence and read it ASAP?
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – Another historical fiction that I’ve heard is sweeping, moving and a great insight into japanese culture!
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin – This book has been on my TBR for a while, given my heightened interest in Chinese SFF, and finally I’m getting to it, thanks to a literature seminar I signed up for (more on that below). Truly anticipating my first piece of translated Chinese SFF, and a meaningful discussion afterwards.

Ah July (and first week of August)’s posts were truly my favourite to write! I ‘m especially proud of myself for finally writing a recommendations post based on my favourite Marvel movies, my first non review/wrap up post of 2021 in fact! Though I do relish every chance to shout random recommendations at people (The Poppy War y’all!!) I found it rather daunting to write a recommendations post based on a certain theme, I always feel like I haven’t read enough books to do true recommendations apart from my favourites, but once I started writing I realised how much I enjoyed it so yes do look out for more recommendation posts from me, for better… or for worse!

POSTS ON THE BLOG

POSTS AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE

In my normal fashion, I was gone for half of July thanks to school, but here are some posts that I managed to catch… (some of them were August posts hehe)

There’s honestly nothing interesting in my life worth mentioning because apart from books, all my other time is simply school and work, which honestly is insufferable given that end-of-years are looming over our heads (they start mid-September yikes). But here are some small life updates for July (ft. a bit of August as well)

  • I made a trip to the library! It may not seem like much but this trip was only my second trip to the library this entire year with the Covid-19 restrictions, as well as my hectic schedule. I managed to pick up some books I’ve been dying to get to like Pachinko, The Wrath and the Dawn and We Were Liars!
  • I won an ARC giveaway! I think in my Mid Year Book Freak Out tag I’ve lamented enough about Netgalley and Edelweiss hating on me, and as an international book blogger it means so much when authors host international giveaways, coupled with the fact that books are expensive here, so thrilled to have won an ARC of The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, one of my most anticipated releases! Can’t wait to devour it and share my thoughts!

  • I signed up for a Literature Seminar and got into my desired session, that is a discussion on Science Fiction in Chinese Literature, as well as a series of presentations, one of which is on The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin! I’ve made it clear that 2021 was the year I wanted to start reading more diversely, in particular books by Asian authors. I’m now more aware of Asian literature and found so many Chinese SFF novels this year I loved (hint hint The Poppy War haha), and I’m excited to go one step further into translated works and participate in discussions about the genre! Don’t be surprised if you see a whole discussion post on Chinese SFF by me after the seminar end August!
  • I got my braces off, finally! Here’s to the only non-literary event in the life section haha, after 2.5 years I finally took my braces off in the end of July. Do I feel prettier? Yes. Am I? No.

https://aboltoutofthebook.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/lets-talk-a-bolt-out-of-the-book.png?w=760

How has July been for you? Any new favourites? Anticipated releases? Have you read any of the books mentioned here?

59 thoughts on “JULY WRAP UP | A Wonderful, Terrible Month ft. More books by Asian authors!

  1. July was a terrible yet wonderful month, Cherelle, and my sanity’s on an all time low as well, so don’t worry, you aren’t alone. And looks like you had a great reading month, that’s so good!
    Congrats on the giveaway, Cherelle, and I am so glad you got your braces off! Mine aren’t going to come off any time soon though:(
    And ah, I wanna visit the library too☹☹
    Great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t in the best place either, but I hope things are easing up for you? Thanks Riddhi, and ah when did you get your braces? Oh no, they still haven’t opened in your country? Hoping that the situation gets better over there! Hope September is treating you well! 🤗

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    1. Thank you Cherry, and yes thank you for constantly talking about it such that I had to stop procrastiating it along with the rest of my TBR, ooh that’s interesting to hear, I’m incredibly hyped for We Free the Stars, pretty sure I will warm up to him soon… Wishing you a lovely October (whoops this reply is really late)! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 9 books, that’s amazing!! congrats on the great reading month, and thank you for including me in your post! (also – great to hear your braces are off, that must be such a relief, I know I felt so glad when I finally got mine off). hope you’re having a lovely august ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your wrap-ups! Sorry that school is stressful for you right now (I am still on summer break for a couple more weeks!) but I hope you are having a great August! I also want to read Pachinko and I don’t know that much about Japanese culture so I am excited to read it and learn more. You have so many books on here I haven’t heard much about before; I will definitely be expanding my TBR

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m so heartened to hear that, Emily! Ah honestly I’m looking forward to school break during the entire school term, mine is coming in about a month, and I’m excited! Hope you enjoyed yours! Pachinko was actually my favourite read of September, truly rich in Japanese as well as Korean culture and history, was truly eye opening and moving story… let me know when you get to it! Thank you for reading, and have a lovely October, Emily! ❤️

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  4. What a great reading month! Sorry to hear school’s been stressful and hope August goes better for you ♥ Ahh I recently got an ARC for the Red Palace too and can’t wait to read it 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  5. According to me, July was a depressing month.
    Ahhh all the books sound inch resting!! I have to give it a go♥️
    I’ve heard that when people take their braces off, their teeth feels…naked. Is that true?
    I AM AWAITING THE DISCUSSION POST ON CHINESE SFF!!
    9 books is amazing<3 Keep it going! (Is that what people say?)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad you had such a great reading month and especially that you enjoyed Jade Warm I’m so excited to reread it and get onto reading Jade legacy!
    OMG yes I need to read Pachinko soon too and I hope you enjoy it!
    Thanks for also sharing my post, Cherelle ❤
    Congrats on winning a giveaway!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful post as always Cherelle!! ✨ I have heard so many things about Jade City and I’m happy that Jade War was epic! A friend has also urged me to read We Hunt The Flame and I’m happy to see that it was an enjoyable book for you! 🥰
    I know exactly what you mean about the end-of-years blues. I don’t know if it’s the pandemic’s fault, but I feel like the year has gone quicker than it usually does. I blink and we’re already mid-August!
    Congratulations on taking your braces off! I remember the minute mine were off, I kept smiling at everyone because I was just so happy 😂 I’m sure you look as pretty as every! 🥰💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Karla! The Green Bone Saga is in my opinion one of the most impressive fantasies in terms of world-building and politics especially, I hope you’ll get to it!! Indeed 2021 passed in a blur, and aww I can relate, my teeth feel so happy and free now! Thank you lovely, hope October has been treating you well! 💕

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  8. lovely wrap-up!! thank you so much for mentioning my blog <33 a "wondeful, terrible month" is the perfect way to describe july, i understand exactly what you mean 🤧 omg Homegoing is such a wonderful book told through a really interesting way so i hope you enjoy it! Pachinko has been on my shelves for quite a while so i look forward to hearing your thoughts on it at the end of august.

    congrats on winning an arc giveaway, that is so exciting! & ahh, i love that you got to make a library visit. i just visited my local bookstore a few weeks ago for the first time in so long and it was just an amazing feeling to be surrounded by all those books!

    i hope that august has been treating you well! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, I hope that August and September has been treating you better Aarushi!! I’m truly glad to hear that, I managed to snag a copy of Homegoing from the library, but the loan expired before I could start it, will definitely be hunting it down soon! I really loved Pachinko, it was so moving and I loved all the Japanese and Korean history and culture it explored.

      Ooh that’s great to hear, did you get any new books or was it just to enjoy the feeling? Thank you, I hope you have a lovely rest of October! 💕

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  9. I agree! July was not it. It was a whirlwind of events and I was both here for it and wishing to just call up in a dark hole and sleep for the remainder of the year.

    I’ve had Homegoing and Pachinko on my shelves for so long, and still haven’t read them. I hope you enjoy them when you get to them. Also congrats on winning the ARC!! That’s so great!

    Lovely post! Have a great day/night/evening and good luck with school!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Eryn! Aw I hope that August and September went more smoothly for you. ❤ As of now, I've finished Pachinko, and loved it, it was truly eye-opening and moving, journeying with a Korean family through major historical events, I hope you love it! Thank you, take care! 💕

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  10. I read one whole book in July and I rated it 1/5 so that should give you some idea of how badly July went for me! I’m now slowly recovering from my reading slump. And congrats on getting the braces off, I’m guessing it must feel really weird?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is an awesome post! You’ve got some really great books on here – I loved Jade War and Homegoing, and I’ve got The Silence of Bones on my shelf. I’m even more psyched to read it now!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. CHERELLE HI!! omg i’m sorry this is so late, school is the absolute worst, and i’ve been in a slump since august 😭 congratulations on getting your braces off!! i’ve had them for like 5 years and *hopefully* i’ll be getting them off by december!! :’)

    there are so many wonderful books by asian authors releasing this year, and i’m so glad you enjoyed so many of them!! i’m so happy you were able to read more than double of what you usually do, and you rated so many of them so highly!! descendant of the crane is SO high on my tbr, and i’m so glad you loved it! the infinity courts was also super fun, even though it wasn’t the best 🥲

    i also loved the forest of stolen girls, so i can’t wait to check out june hur’s other books! jade war has also gotten so much hype, and i can’t wait to start on that. i hope you love all the books on your tbr for august, especially pachinko, and the keeper of the night because i’ve heard the best things about those! 🥰

    i loved your marvel movie recs post, and i haven’t gotten to commenting on that yet (ahh sorry 😭), but i loved reading it! thank you so much for sharing my post 🥺 i haven’t been active at all, but it means the world to me!! i hope you’ve had a great september so far as well 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ahaana! No worries at all, sorry to hear that, hope school is beginning to ease up for you? And ooh that is exciting! Descendant of the Crane was such a compelling read, quite different from The Ones We’re Meant to Find, but Joan He delivered as always… indeed The Infinity Courts was a lot of fun with the world building, and I’m excited as there is so much potential for the sequel to amaze me! 🥰

      Ah I hope you enjoy the Green Bone Saga, the last book Jade Legacy is coming out in 2 months, and if you do read it Jade City and Jade War beforehand, the pre-order campaign for Jade Legacy just opened today! 👀 Pachinko and The Keeper of Night both got a 4.5 star for me and definitely make it to my top ten of this year, I hope you’ll manage to get to them and find it as meaningful as I did!!formulas

      Aww thank you, and no problem Ahaana, you don’t need to comment on so many posts you missed though I appreciate it immensely and love chatting with you!! My please, hope you’ll come back to the blogosphere soon if things are ok? Hope October has been treating you well, take care!! 💕

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