July 2021 Reading Wrap Up | 15 Books I Read This Month

Hi friends! As I promised, I come back with another reading blog post. This time, I’m going to show you all the books I read on July. This month, I participated on Olympic Readathon and Tarot Readathon. I picked some books that I wanted to read during the month to my TBR list. I finished 15 books, and continue reading the other 3 books on August. I found some five-star reads and some not too enjoyable ones, however I really enjoyed my July reading journey. 


All Books I Read on July

1. The School For Good and Evil #1 by Soman Chainani

It’s the first book in The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani. I read the Indonesian translation version which is longer than the original one, but I’m glad that it has normal size font (not too small) so it wasn’t too intimidating to read. This book is about 2 girls named Sophie and Agatha who live in a village surrounded by forest. Sophie is bored living in the same place because she hates everything about it. While Agatha is avoided by everyone, because villagers see her and her mom as witches. Every year there are always some kids being kidnapped by someone from a school beyond the forest. One is for Good School, the other is for Evil School. The Good School is for princes, princesses, fairies and all the good stuff in fairy tales. While the Evil School is for witches, monsters, and everything bad in fairy tales. Sophie wants to be selected for Good School, so she does everything considered good for the village – including befriended Agatha. When the kidnapping happened, something went the opposite, Sophie was being thrown into Evil School, while Agatha to Good School.

I enjoyed the first half of the story, until they competed for a prince in Good School. There’s inconsistency in Sophie and Tedros characters (but I convinced myself that they’re just teenagers, so they couldn’t be consistent), they switched their minds so quickly. Beside, I don’t really get into Sophie’s head in the middle of the story. I like how Agatha keeps her character here while slowly improved in order to solve the problem. This story stressed much on the black and white characters of people in the fairy tales. The Good has good looking, wealth, and a handsome prince. Then the Evil has scary appearances and bad habits and don't deserve a happy life. Also the princess should have a prince to live happily ever after. Interesting reflection on typical fairy tales even some other cultures that have black and white as their inputs to be processed by conditional if to get another black and white result. Unexpectedly I like the ending of this book which provided some unexpected answers for all my questions. Another thing I like from this book is how the author keeps me reading the next chapters even though I found some stuff to be annoying. I read the Indonesian translation of the book, and I really like the translations that it made me laugh.

2. Twinchantment #1 by Alise Ellen

The next book I read for the readathon is Twinchantment by Alise Ellen which is also the first book in a series. This book took place years later after the magic and everything related to it being removed from a kingdom named Kaloon. At first it showed a princess called Flissara which came a little too late to an important event in the palace, falling down, broke her dress, and met a boy with a black cat. After that, we got that Flissara is actually 2 identical twins named Flissa and Sara. Their identity is being hidden because twins are also related to magic, so they don't deserve a life inside the kingdom. We follow the adventure of the 2 princesses and some friends they found during the journey to find a cure for the curse.

It's an interesting book that made me thinking that Flissa and Sara weren’t blood related at first. Each chapter has either Flissa or Sara point of view. I can differ between the two princesses most of the time, although there’s some time where I came back to the chapter title to see whose the current I read. This also ran straight into the point of the story which is the adventure of the two princesses. The author has successfully made me guessing wrong. It turned out to be something unexpected. Although there’s something I want to happen which ended up not happening and something else happened, I enjoyed this book as my second read of the month.

3. A Pinch of Magic #1 by Michelle Harrison

Another first book in a series which I took because of the title. This book is about the 3 Widdershins sisters going on adventure to break the curse which has been running in their family for years.

I was mildly impatient to wait for the “thing” that made the family can’t go anywhere outside the land. The first half of the book was about Betty confusing, complaining, thinking and making strategy to figure out what’s happening. Then they went to the jail, and met this one person who promised the key to break the curse. But then I feel that without meeting this person in the jail, they can figure out what to do to break the curse (because Charlie had tried it before without us knowing). Also, I was disappointed with the family drama such as the mistakes Charlie made which slowing their progress and made them being kidnapped. I’m more interested in the one who casts the curse. I can relate to her personality and her journey. Maybe I have to read it again in the future when I have different view about troubles caused by kids and being involved with prison stuff.

4. Love & Luck (Love & Gelato #2) by Jenna Evans Welch

The second book from Love & Gelato series which now focuses on Addie. If you read Love & Gelato, you will find Addie as Lina’s best friend. This book is only about Addie and her problems with her brother.

It's similar to the third book I read this month which make me quite impatient with what really happened to them and why the “conflict” existed and why Addie was sad and heartbroken all the time. Because it's only me who didn't know what the actual problem was (Addie and her brother knew it ofc), I was worried that I missed something when I read this book. It took so long to answer what happened between them and who the dude she used to be with. The guidebook is interesting and the author describe Ireland so well that I can picture it in my mind. I like the Ireland’s vibes and places they visited. I also love the consistency of Lina’s character. She’s still funny in this book too, even though I didn’t really understand with something they do in the last part of the story before the concert. I love Addie too, she could do cool things and is easily being friends with strangers.

5. City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab

I didn’t put this book on my July TBR at first. It’s so difficult for me to pick a book with grey cover that is not too scary, too intimidating, or didn’t catch my eyes (I know I was being difficult with myself). This book is categorized as horror middle grade, so I can read it without being too scared. This book is about Cass whose parents working related to ghost. The parents ended up getting their own TV show about ghosts, and they have to fly to Scotland. Cass can see the ghosts while her parents not. She has a ghost friend who is funny and supportive.

I like it! I like Cass’ character who didn’t do careless things and make some drama involved her ability. This book has perfect pace, which explains everything at the right time. It didn’t make me questioning stuff alone nor for too long, because Cass also questioned everything. I love Jacob and Lara even though they’re quite the opposite. I already highlighted some sentences in the early chapters which is a rare thing for me. I can relate to Cass’ personality and actions because she's careful enough to deal with something from another realm. Finally, I can read the remaining 15 chapters in one sitting, because I was too excited with what’s going to happen next.

6. The Beauty of Being A Beast by Jennifer Estep

A short story that follows Lady Griselle that turned into a beast because of a family curse. I had this low expectation on this book, but this book broke it. It’s short, simple, straight into the message and the ending is beautiful. The blurb said : “Some curses aren’t meant to be broken . . .”. And that is something I found interesting.

7. Strange The Dreamer #1 by Laini Taylor

Another favorite book of the month yet it took the longest time for me to finish it. It took one month to finish the whole book because I ended up falling asleep whenever I read it in the night. This story is about Lazlo Strange with his curiosity and innocence. For the first part of the book I really can relate to Lazlo because he came as ordinary people without power, influence nor wealth. He is a librarian and super patient with everything happened. And it took longer time to understand what he’s doing, relating to the Unseen City. Then the next part of the book, we switched to a stranger point of view which confused me at first, but then we finally know who she is. Then the later parts we have multiple point of views that made me realize that everyone is likeable here (at least I can understand the meanest one). It’s really an adventure wrapped in beautiful descriptions. The last part of the book was unexpected, which made me speechless because Lazlo is not ordinary person anymore. I didn’t expect anything to this story to be something I want. There’s nothing I demand to happen in this book. I simply enjoyed the journey. This book also inspired me to do my August Bullet Journal setup.

8. A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1) by Ursula K Le Guin

I tried to read a classic so I picked this book to match the prompt. This is also a book in a series, yet I don’t plan to read the next book. This book is about a wizard named Ged who had a journey to face shadowy creature that followed him everywhere and scared him.

I don’t really enjoy the second half of the book because it’s only about a long journey, Ged did this and that, Ged met people and other creatures which in the end of the book didn’t really hold significant effect to Ged. I was tired already with him going back and forth to fight the unknown scary shadow. Overall, I like how this book showed me someone’s anger, ambition and greed affecting his life.

9. The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

This book is about Clara who is an Everwitch. In this book, every witch has one season assigned to their power, like Summer, Autumn, Spring and Winter. An Everwitch has all 4 seasons power and stable power all the year long. She is the only Everwitch after hundreds years, so it’s a struggle for her to fulfill her role as someone powerful without any information and proper education about Everwitch.

At first, I was excited with what’s happening in the world and to Clara. I love the magic system and how it concerns about nature. The teachers had no idea what to do with Clara to be a powerful Everwitch, because nobody knew it, except this one teacher who believed in her. Clara had problems with her past too, because everyone she loved would end up dying. So, she would restrict her own power and suppress her feelings towards other. It's an interesting starting point of a story, but then I was bored with the next part of the book, especially the romance part between Clara and Sang which for me was too much and I don't really connect to them. I expected this book to give some spotlight on the nature, the real cause of the strange phenomenon and about the Everwitch books she received from her teacher. And I think, the second book about Everwitch she received had no significant role in helping her progress, because she already got it all by training with Sang. I expected some communication with the witches who are responsible in keeping the nature balance and give some magical touch to the academy. One thing that bothers is : if witches are responsible for the nature balance all over the world, then they should have the schedule to migrate when the season changes to keep their power. And how about places with only 2 seasons - like this place I'm living in? Don't they have any witches there?

10. Magic Words : From The Ancient Oral Tradition of The Inuit

I’m dying for the beautiful illustrations until the end of the book!

11. River of Lights (The Magic Portal #1) by Melanie Dobson

A middle grade book about Katie who didn’t feel belong here in Paris boarding school. In the middle of a school tour, she found a portal to another magical world that currently facing a problem.

I enjoyed this story because each chapter is not too long and everything is easy to understand. I had this prediction about Katie and Lily, but it’s wrong. So this book is unexpected. But I found the decision of the queen to stay was not that strong. Overall, I like the bravery and friendship shown in this story. Even though I found the teacher and her friends were quite annoying, I could be happy for Katie to find a beautiful place and a new adventure there.

12. Watering The Soul by Courtney Peppernell

Without reading the blurb or anything that summarized what this book about, I went straight into reading this one. It’s a poetry collection about healing journey. I cried and highlighted the first couple pages because I could relate, they’re like speaking for me. The words are easy to understand, and I can follow the journey inside this book. There were some repetitions about loss, heartbreak and pain after some encouraging pages. I think this one reflected the human nature, sometimes we can feel the past sadness even though we feel that we’re way stronger than before. The past painful memories will be repeated over and over again even we have forgotten the details. Beautiful book!

13. Adventures of Calypso by Monty C. Floyd

We follow Calypso, a dog who got lost somehow, and his journey to go home. I enjoyed this short story about animals and the friendship between them. It’s easy to understand, and the author pictured all the characters (especially the animals) so well. I love how Calypso developed his character along his journey. My favorite character is the rat. I don’t know, he was just so funny and brave.

14. Pawsitively Cursed (Witch of Edgehill #2) by Melissa Erin Jackson

The second book in the series that I enjoyed as audiobook. I really love how talented Victoria Villarreal as narrator in this series because she can bring different characters by her own voice. I can really understand the story even though listening to a story in foreign language is not my best ability. The second book follows Amber, the witch who opens a toy shop in Edgehill. Everything isn’t okay from the first part because Chief Brown saw her doing magic. Then her aunt came and said she’s not feeling okay. The questions about her parents’ death finally being answered here. I always like the cozy vibes of this book combined with how easy it is to understand what’s going on. I love how Amber reacted to the chaotic situation when Jack going mad, Edgar being stubborn and Willow texting her. I always love the punny words in this series and how the ending turned out.

15. True Loaf by L. Austen Johnson

A very short story inspired by Balkan folklore. I listened to the audiobook version, super short, and the narrator has storytelling vibe in her voice. An interesting story about a café which accepted one weird customer’s request for certain bread. We followed the café owner’s journey to find the ingredient until making the bread. I’m not into the ending. Maybe because it’s too short, so there’s not much explanation.


The Remaining Books I Hope to Finish on August

1. After/Math by Emily Barth Isler

2. Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

3. Before the Coffee Gets Cold #1 by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

You can expect these three books in my August wrap-up! They're already in my August 2021 Reading Plans.


Things I Learned from July Books

I always see books as reflection of life and myself. So, through the books, I find some likes and dislikes which point to the unconscious parts of myself.

1. I found some books have similar thing that made me upset because they let me question what really happened to the main character on top of other things happening. From this, I might learn that I’m impatient for knowledge of something that was kept from me while other things happening (whether it’s good or bad, I can’t really get into it before my questions answered). However I enjoyed some previous books I read which have a lot of questions, like The School for Good and Evil.

2. I also didn’t enjoy a too long repetitive journey which involved a main character going here and there and meeting some people who didn’t contribute to the character development, or to just be there to add some people to the frame.

3. The last thing I dislike was the unbalanced story. Like, Nature of Witches has an interesting premise and first season of the book, it has great magic system and I admire the environmental problems inside the story. But the character’s ability and learning process was as not long and detailed as the romance part. Love is also part of nature, but the main character needed to improve her witch power to save the Earth. So, both of aspect should get proper and balanced portion inside the story.

4. Then move on to things I like from this month reading. seeing from the books I really enjoyed and even I gave it 5 stars, I love the unexpected and the twist which are still logical (even if it’s a fantasy genre). In The School for Good and Evil, there were so many things happening once they stepped their feet in the school. But it didn’t make me confused or forgetting the storyline. Every question I have was answered in perfect way – not in a rush. It felt natural and not overwhelming.

5. I also like the story when I can go inside the main character’s head (it doesn’t have to be first person POV) and can totally understand (and sometimes relate) them. Like, Strange The Dreamer, I can understand everyone inside the story, even the meanest one. The humans and the godspawn have this quality to be understood and liked. The next is The City of Ghosts, I can relate to Cass’ character along the story yet I have no expectations for her to act as I wanted to.

6. The third is something uncommon. When it comes to retelling, you can expect the ending to be a happy ending with a beautiful princess and prince being together. But, in this era, that happy ending is not always seen as happy by every single person. So, a story with a different and uncommon ending which reflects our society (not always the majority) is a favorite, like The Beauty of Being A Beast.

7. Then the last is beautiful and balanced writing. Strange The Dreamer has the beauty of it, yet it didn’t confuse me even though there were so many difficult words I found there. It’s not overloaded with only beautiful vocabularies, but the way the author put the words together is beautiful.

Thank for stopping by and reading this entry. If you have some book recommendations, don’t hesitate to leave them below. So, how about your reading on July? Did you find a great book too? Or did you read the same books I mentioned above? Tell me in the comment box. Okay, that's all for my July wrap up. See you on the next entry about my August reading planning. Bye bye.

Graphics by lailiving
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