The Month(s) in Books: October & November 2020

Hello hello hello everyone!! Happy December! Contrary to all appearances, I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth! Life has been a whirlwind these past two months, but I think everything’s settling into place. Emphasis on I think.

But I’ve been productive in the meantime! I’ve officially jumped on the Toujours bandwagon, and even *gasp* adopted a color scheme! Who knew, maybe graphic design is still an open option for me. 

That was sarcasm, by the way.

Anyway, I’m here today to wrap up October and November! Can you believe that we’ve already reached the last month of this mess of a year? It seems like only yesterday that I attended our church’s New Year’s Eve service… which is ironic as I haven’t been inside a church building in close to nine months. 😶

Since this post is going to cover two months, it’s going to be a bit longer and more rambly than my usual wrap-ups — but you guys should already be used to my over-long posts at this point 😅 So without further ado, let’s get started!

What I Read

I’m honestly surprised that I got through any books at all these past few weeks?? Like I said, life has been a bit of a whirlwind. 

Skyhunter, by Marie Lu. Marie Lu does it again! This time, she’s back with an amazing YA sci-fi/dystopia that tells the story of Mara, the last free nation standing, and its fight against the Karensan Federation. With strong themes of loyalty and hope, a bit of romance sprinkled in, and character relationships that destroyed me with their brilliance, there’s something in here for everyone. ★ ★ ★ ★

Soothsayer, by Kathryn Amurra. A lovely historical romance set in Ancient Rome! Although I had some trouble getting into the story during the first half, the second half quickly made up for it with the captivating development of the main characters and their swoon-worthy relationship! ★ ★ ★ ★

Set My Heart to Five, by Simon Stephenson. Robots gaining sentience remains my ultimate Achilles’ heel when it comes to book tropes, so my expectations were high going into this book — and it (mostly) delivered. Jared, our narrator, was hilarious and irreverent, a nice offset to the emotional storyline. But I didn’t particularly like how it handled suicide and religion, and it generally wasn’t all that memorable. Sorry? ★ ★ ★ ½ (TW: prejudice, suicide, depression, nuclear attacks (mentioned), disappearance of a loved one)

Beach Read, by Emily Henry. I loved the romance in this one, as well as the more somber discussions of writer’s block, child abuse, and growing up. (I literally sobbed through the entirety of the last few chapters.) But I was not expecting this level of explicit content. I actually had to skim a few intense scenes, and I’m the type that thinks skimming is a crime 😶😳 So… balancing it all out, a solid 3.5 stars? ★ ★ ★ ½ (TW)

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo. GUYS I FINALLY READ IT AND AHHHHH I think I have just witnessed perfection 🤩 This was immaculately plotted with some seriously bewildering plot twists, a fantastically twisted atmosphere, and a perfect balance of character and storyline. And the characters — oh my goshhhhh — are some of the best fictional things to happen to me this year 😍 Review possibly (probably) to come! ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (TW)

Rent a Boyfriend, by Gloria Chao. Aka one of my most anticipated 2020 releases!!! This was a lovely book that’s so much more than just a fake-dating romance — there are some serious discussions about toxic Asian-American communities and unhealthy family relationships. The romance was ADORABLE, with A+ banter and chemistry, as well as a third-act breakup that doesn’t happen within the last 10% of the book. I’d pitch this one as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with darker undertones. Lauren wrote an amazing review of this one, complete with content warnings, so go check it out! ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi. I don’t even know why I dragged out this book for as long as I did, because it was so. good!! This was a great, comprehensive look at racist ideas through the ages and I learned so much from it. Reynolds’s writing style kept me engaged, not to mention kept me from delving into a full-on existential crisis over the hopelessness of humanity. This not-history history book is a perfect choice for all readers looking to educate themselves — both young and old! ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ (TW: use of the n-word, racism & prejudice, lynching, murder)

Our Twisted Hero, by Yi Munyol & Kevin O’Rourke (translator). I had to read this for school, and I am ridiculously happy that our curriculum is including texts from a variety of cultures. This one is by an acclaimed Korean author and is an allegory set in a classroom with plenty of political implications — I like to think of it as South Korea’s Animal Farm, though you shouldn’t let the comparison deter you if you hate Orwell. It’s a very unsettling and fascinating story that makes for great discussion. I had a bunch of conversations with my mom about what was happening in Korea when Yi published this book, which made it an even more special experience for me. ★ ★ ★ ★ (TW: bullying, corporal punishment (beating))

I also DNFed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett at 70% halfway through October. I still feel a bit guilty about that, but oh well. I had been enjoying myself, but then I’d gotten myself stuck at the same place for a month, and stretching myself thin to finish the one book just didn’t seem worth it to me. Let me know if I should change my mind! (TW)

Other Random Things

Starry. Hey, remember that time I wrote an entire book rec list as an ode to my love for this musical about the Van Gogh brothers? It’s okay if you don’t, as I’m just going to continue to scream about it anyway — because Starry is PERFECTION and I am taking no arguments there. It’s everything I ever wanted in a historical musical. Or a musical, period 😍😍😍 The creators also released a deluxe album a few days ago and ahhhhhhhhhhhh. The bonus tracks are all amazing, but the demo of “Take On the World Together” and the original version of “Something After All” just… took hold of my heart and haven’t let go since 🥺 (TW: suicide, depression)

Moulin Rouge! The Musical. I’d been hearing so many things about this musical, and Aaron Tveit being the (one and only) nominee for Best Actor for the Tonys this year for his role as Christian finally convinced me to listen to this album. And oh boy. I’m low-key obsessed with every single one of the tracks, which are all absolute BOPS, and I’m high-key obsessed with Aaron’s voice — how on earth does he hit all those crazy high notes?!?! I actually didn’t know going in that this was a jukebox musical, and it took very obvious variations of “Shut Up and Dance,” “Raise a Glass,” “Firework,” and “Single Ladies” before I finally realized that this wasn’t an original score. Now you all know the true extent of my cluelessness about pop music 😅😂 (TW: consumption, suicidal ideation, death, abusive relationship)

The 74th Tony nominations. That’s right, the Tony nominations are in!! And… they’re sort of disastrous, at least for the musicals. 2020 was the first year I got to be a “real” theatre fan, so it’s rather sad to see what a mess this pandemic has made out of Broadway’s most esteemed award show. As I mentioned, Aaron Tveit is somehow the only nominee for Best Leading Actor? (He totally deserves it though.) And The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical got COMPLETELY SNUBBED?! Not a single nomination, despite it being one of the very few musicals eligible this year! Not even a nomination for Best Original Score, despite the fact that it was the only musical eligible with an original score! The Tonys just really hate teen musicals, don’t they (flashbacks to last year’s Be More Chill debacle) 😤

Here’s my “Currently Obsessed” Spotify playlist for those of you who love musicals as much as I do. I’ll try to keep it updated so that you can all stalk my latest discoveries 😂

Blogging Highlights!

As per usual, you all wrote some amazing posts these past two months. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to include all of them here, but you are all amazing and don’t let anybody say otherwise 💜

Next Month’s TBR

I already have a bunch of tests scheduled in December, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get much reading done during the first half of the month?? But I’m planning to do basically nothing but read during winter break 😆🙃

Instant Karma, by Marissa Meyer. Marissa Meyer’s newest release got a lot of buzz when it released in early November, and I’m so happy to finally get around to reading it!! Though I’m a bit nervous after reading quite a few mixed reviews. We’ll see, I guess.

Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Everybody seems to agree that this one is even better than Six of Crows?!?!?! And I’m also pretty sure something bad happens to one of my damaged marshmallows?!?!?! Helppppppp

Daughter of the Reich, by Louise Fein. I placed this book on hold in… July… and I’ve been putting it off ever since… *hides* This month is my chance to redeem myself — and the premise sounds genuinely interesting! I’m anticipating a difficult but touching read set in Nazi Germany.

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, by Deborah Heiligman. You know that Abby is properly obsessed with something when she starts reading nonfiction for the fun of it. I gave up a chance to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to get this book instead, which really tells you all you need to know.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book I-III, by Rick Riordan. I’ve been putting off continuing this series for years now, and the urging of my fellow book bloggers has finally pushed me off the edge. I’m so excited to see what all the hype is about 😃

Verse of the Month

If you didn’t know, this past Sunday marked the beginning of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas and the birth of Christ! So I’ll leave you today with a Bible passage to reflect on the greatest Gift in the history of gifts:

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the  government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful  Counselor, Mighty God,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

Thank you for sticking around to yet another absurdly long post — I hope you enjoyed!! If everything goes to plan, this blog will be a bit more active in December with not as many unexplained disappearances as this month. I’ve planned a few end-of-year posts, and I may or may not attempt to create an original Starry book tag?!?? Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested if I do decide to go through with the idea!!

Also: I promise I haven’t forgotten about all the tags you wonderful people have tagged me for!! I’m sorry guys, I really have no excuse at this point 😂😅 I’m not going to guarantee that I’ll have most of them up by the end of the year, but… I’ll try.

Thanks again everyone, and I hope you all have a beautiful day/night/afternoon ahead! Wishing you all a wonderful December ❤️

35 thoughts on “The Month(s) in Books: October & November 2020

  1. My October reads were Secret Garden (which was started September), His Dark Materials, and Mayor of Casterbridge.

    November consisted of Little Women, Some Hans Christian Anderson, and finishing A Christmas Treasury.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in love with your new blog aesthetics, Abby! 😊 Seriously, I need you to to teach me!
    And I’m glad you had such a great reading month – and especially happy about that high Six of Crows rating 😁 That duology… 😍 I can’t wait to read your thoughts on Crooked Kingdom soon!
    (And I really need to watch – or at least listen to – Starry 😅 I have no excuse. It sounds sooo good, so it’s great that you keep pushing it to remind me! 😁)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhh thank you so much Naemi!! Though I’m afraid I wouldn’t make all that great of a teacher — you don’t want to know how long it took me to get this to look even vaguely presentable 😂😅

      Yessss Six of Crows was so good!!!! I’m currently regretting my decision to put Crooked Kingdom off until the holidays… but that way I’ll be able to give it my entire focus 🤩 ASDFGHJKL; STARRY omg. Hahaha I’m glad you’re finding my near-constant fangirling encouraging — I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!!! I’ve been listening to the bonus tracks on repeat for like three days now, and I’m still not sick of them?? The creators have really made something incredible with this album. (Here I go again, fangirling 🤦‍♀️😂)

      Thank you so much for this sweet comment Naemi!! I hope you have a great December ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, since my own graphics expertise is basically nonexistent, I am absolutely amazed by your skills 😉😁 I’m sure you know way more than you think!

        And I totally feel you on Crooked Kingdom – I’ve been saving The Empire of Gold and The Dragon Republic for Christmas break too, even though I’m absolutely dying to read them!! But I just know that my schoolwork will suffer horribly if I picked them up now, since I highly doubt I’ll be able to put them down once I’ve started reading! 😂😂 And Starry is definitely on my Christmas break to-do list, too! 🤗🤗

        And thank you! ❤ I also wish you a great December and happy Advent!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, so good to hear from you Abby!! Fantastic wrap-up! 💜

    I’ll have to read Vincent and Theo– I’ve been wanting to listen to Starry after hearing you rave about it, but I know next to nothing about either of the Van Gogh brothers 😅 Maybe that would give some helpful background into their sibling relationship before I jump into Starry! 😁

    And YESSS I can’t wait to listen to your musicals playlist!! I see you have Newsies and Hamilton on there, two of my favorites. I should really make a playlist of musical gems as well… 😉

    P.S. Loving the new blog design and logo!! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Essa! Agh yes Starry!!!! I’m so excited to read Vincent & Theo — it looks like such an informative and interesting read!! And the cover is just 😍😍 Ooh reading about their relationship beforehand is probably a great decision. There are a bunch of Easter eggs in Starry from the letters the brothers exchanged, which I think Deborah Heiligman goes into a lot of detail about.

      Ahhh yay!!! I pretty much have that playlist on nonstop (WHY DO YOU WRITE LIKE YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME) and I’ve yet to get sick of it 😆 I would absolutely love to listen to your playlist if you ever decide to make one!!

      Thanks so much Essa 💕 Wishing you a lovely December!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss Skyhunter was so good!! I hope you enjoy it whenever you get to pick it up 🥰 And ahhh another Six of Crows fan! I’m definitely planning to write a review sometime soon, although I doubt it’ll be anything close to a coherent, professional post… more like unabashed fangirling 😂 Thank you for this lovely comment Noelle — wishing you a wonderful December!!

      Like

  4. Abby, your new layout looks amazing!! Though, I must confess I didn’t realise Toujours was a name for a new theme and I was confused as to what was “the Today bandwagon” 😅. I’m so happy you enjoyed most books you read these past few months and I hope you enjoy the books on your tbr even more!

    Oh, I really need to find time to listen to Starry and I’d definitely be interested in a book tag once I’ve done that (hopefully soon). Also, this post might be a sign that I need to finally sit down and watch the Moulin Rouge movie, which I’ve been putting off for years for no apparent reason (and then listen to the musical album because Aaron Tveit😍). Speaking of whom, Aaron Tveit being the only nominee will never not be funny to me, although neither he nor his colleagues deserved that treatment. Then again, from what I’ve heard the Tonys are a bit messy every year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Nefeli!!! Ahaha that’s hilarious 🤣 I don’t blame you though, WordPress has some really strangely named themes 😂

      Ahhh yes Starry!!! I’m so happy to hear you’d be interested!! I am seriously in love with this musical and I’m already having so much fun coming up with possible prompts for the book tag!!

      Don’t worry, I’ve never actually watched the movie either 😅 But I can confirm that the musical is amazing!! It’s so flashy and extra in the best way — the set design is gorgeous too, if you get a chance to look up some images 😍

      And omg Aaron Tveitttt. I know, it’s a ridiculous situation and it’s honestly sort of hilarious. I cannot understand why they didn’t just nominate Chris McCarrell (The Lightning Thief) for Best Actor as well?? It would have saved Aaron some face and they could’ve at least acknowledged that TLT: The Musical exists. 🤦‍♀️ But true — nobody is really satisfied with how the Tonys turn out, global pandemic or no 😂

      This reply got a bit long, but what can I say, discussing musicals always makes me feel happier 😆 Thanks for leaving this comment Nefeli, and I hope you have a beautiful December! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful wrap-up, Abby! 😍 I’m so glad you found a new favourite with Six of Crows, I really have to get to that one eventually!

    Thank you so much for including my post, it means a lot. It was definitely through careful observation, just for the avoidance of doubt! 😉

    Anyways, I hope you have a lovely day and a very happy December 🥰💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Stephen!! Ahh yes Six of Crows was so good — worth every single ounce of the hype, I think!! 😍

      No problem!! Hahaha, nice to know. I was seriously worried there for a sec 😂

      Same to you!! Thanks for reading and leaving this lovely comment 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve definitely intrigued me on Moulin Rouge. I still haven’t heard the soundtrack, but I have to now. And you’re right, the Tony nominations are all over the place this year 😳!!

    You had an amazing reading month Abby!! I’m in awe 😱😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh yes Moulin Rouge is so gooddd!!! The show is filled to the brim with personality and the songs are on loop in my head pretty much 24/7. And ugh I know right. I get that eligibility was an issue this year, but… I’m still not happy 😅

      Aww thanks so much!! Though I’m not sure if I can take so much credit, seeing that this was across two months 😅😂

      Thanks for stopping by Pilar!! I hope you finish off this year with some amazing reads in December ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahhhh I’m so glad you enjoyed Six of Crows!!! I was a bit tentative going into it as well because of all the hype, but it really is such a brilliant book. I read Crooked Kingdom a couple of months ago and loved it even more! 😱

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhhhh I know right?! Six of Crows is one of those rare books that deserves every ounce of the hype it’s gotten 😍 And reading everyone’s (gushing, raving) thoughts on Crooked Kingdom is seriously making me antsy to pick it up already!!

      Thanks for stopping by, MT!! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Abby!!! This post is wonderful to read and I loved that this month seemed productive for you. I’m still stuck in reading Rent a Boyfriend, but I’m enjoying it tho!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Deynne!! I’m so happy to hear you liked the post 🥰 Ooh I had so much fun reading Rent a Boyfriend — I’d love to hear what you think of when you get to finish it!!

      Thanks for stopping by, Deynne, and I hope you have a gorgeous December 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Abby! Again, I’m so glad that you loved Six of Crows and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on SoC and Crooked Kingdom! CK was incredible (says me who is currently rereading).

    And I am also on the Toujours bandwagon. If I could describe the theme, it would be spacious. Is that weird? Anyway, I hope you have a happy December!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kirsten!! Yesss, Six of Crows was the best!!! Everyone in the comments has been raving about Crooked Kingdom so saying that I’m excited to start it is a major understatement 🤩

      Ahaha a fellow Toujours user!! Yep, spacious really describes it nicely. I love the interface and how clean it looks on a desktop!

      Thanks for stopping by Kirsten! Wishing you a happy December as well ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Stamped is definitely worth picking up!! I was pretty hesitant at first because it’s nonfiction, but it’s a really great book and I highly recommend it! And haha, believe me, I know how that feels with SoC 😂

      Yess I’m so excited!! They sound like really fun, quick reads, so I’m looking forward to devouring them over the holidays!

      Thank you so much for stopping by Allison! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so glad you enjoyed Rent a Boyfriend!! The Percy Jackson series is one of my all time favorites and I hope you like the rest of the books :’) Thank you for the shoutout!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh another Percy Jackson fan!! I really can’t wait to get around to the series and see what everyone has been raving about. And no problem at all, your review was amazing!! Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving this comment Lauren 😊

      Like

  11. Ah, thank you so much for including my post, Abby! 🥰 Great wrap up! I still want to read quite a few of these but I’m looking forward to them. Sorry to hear that The Vanishing Half was a DNF for you though! It’s definitely not something you should feel guilty about coz we can’t like all the books all the time, right? 😉 Hope your December reads have been going well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was my pleasure, Dini — I loved reading that post!! ❤️ And thank you so much!! Yep, I was rather disappointed with myself for not sticking it out with that book, but as you say, there are bound to be some misses along with all the hits 😌

      Thanks so much Dini, and same to you! Happy reading 🥰

      Like

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