Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag (+ Book Journal Update!)

Hello!

I have been looking forward to doing this tag again for the third year in a row, since the end of March, and what makes this one different from my previous posts, I will also be giving you an update look into reading journal! I said in the beginning that I would like to discuss my progress was going sometime this summer and since we’re right at the middle of 2022, I figured it would be awesome to do it all together so I wouldn’t have to do more scheduling this month!

Firstly, we will go on with the tag itself and then I’ll show you my journal afterwards. I do have a couple of things to mention though, I am only talking about the books I’ve read from January to mid-June and I’ve kept the same questions, so if you’d like to do this challenge on your blog or YouTube channel (or just for fun!) I would really love to see your answers, so please tag me in your posts!

Here are my previous answers from 2020 and 2021.


Best Book You’ve Read so Far

Honestly, I’ve read a lot of really good books. I’m trying to break out of my normal genres like romance and rediscover old favorites like historical fiction. It took me a bit, but I’ve finally started to push through the historical aspect with diving into stories about the Vikings, and I am forever grateful for taking a chance on K.M. Butler’s debut “The Raven and The Dove” which is based on the Vikings living in Normandy. Before reading this book, I wasn’t interested with these types of books, but I have a soft spot for women’s stories and despite the fact the author wrote this in two POVs, I actually loved it! It was fun to look into the main character’s lives and how they viewed one another personally and the customs of the times.

After I finished it, I tried my foot into similar books, but I wasn’t able to mesh with any others until I came across Melanie Karsak’s own Viking stories called “The Road to Valhalla”. I had tried to read one back in December, but it wasn’t what I wanted to read at the time and then a few months later I discovered the actual series and I adore the fact that Melanie can create such interesting characters and settlings that you can clearly picture in your mind at all hours of the day (or in my case at night!) and attempt to figure out how it will all end for them. Once I completed “Under the Howling Moon” back in March, it didn’t take me long to whiz right through them! I will probably be finished with all five books by the end of the season.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far This Year?

I’m surprised with myself, but I haven’t really read any sequels or at least any proper sequels than besides The Road to Valhalla. However, when I was done with “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott back in March, I decided to test out “Little Men” which is about Jo’s school for boys and discusses her life with her nephews and other young gentlemen that live amongst Jo and her husband Friedrich. The stories are very dated, but I have enjoyed love discovering the way people wrote their stories. Louisa wrote her books in the style that reflected her life in some way, so in a way she gave her accent and voice to her characters.

The other sequel is Harry Potter and the “Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling. Some of you might know about this, but I tend to only read my Harry Potter books whenever the weather warms up a little, so from spring to early summer to the end of autumn, I am sitting outside with our cats on the back deck continuing my Harry Potter journey. When I came back to it in late April, I was halfway done with it and usurpingly remembered everything I had previously read several months before and so I was thoroughly excited to finish it but now I feel weird that after I am done with ‘Half Blood Prince”–and I could finish it by the start of fall–that I will have one more book in the series and I would cross it off my reading bucket list!

New release you haven’t read, but would like to

I’ve tried my hardest to not think of the recently released books, but I do take advantage of the Amazon’s First Reads for prime readers, as you can get one book a month and they are usually free to any user, and I’ve collected three books I thought looked interesting and they were: “The Last Rose of Shanghai” by Weina Dal Randel, “The Taste of Ginger” by Mansi Shah and “The Lobotomist’s Wife” by Samantha Greene Woodruff. As you might be able to tell, all three were from the Historical Fiction box. I am excited to get to these books, but I have no idea when that will be exactly!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

There are a couple of books I’d like to get my feet on soon, like I said above, I haven’t paid that much attention to the lists. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t see anything on social media from my family and friends… One was inspired by my friend Ella, as she had checked it on Goodreads as “want to read” last month. She has a large array of books and this one really seemed odd and right up my alley, It is called, “The Drowned Woods” by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

The second book was listed as part of Hot Summer Reads blog post on Goodreads, and I thought the title was both hilarious and morbid, but once I saw what it was about, my curiosity was piqued, it is former actress Jeannete McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died”. Besides historical fiction, I also have a huge weakness for memoirs, and I think this would be a great read as we enter the colder months. I only say it like that because I tend to want sporty and coming of age books around the time school starts back up!

Biggest Disappointment

This year I’ve been trying to listen to more audiobooks and back in February, I decided I wanted to check out some childhood classics, and I found “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and I have always been curious about it, and the fact I have only watched the film once in my whole life, I thought I would be fine with it but I was so upset with it by the end of the experience! I still don’t believe it deserves to be in a “children” category, especially with the amount of traumatic themes in it. I literally rated it as a three out of five stars, because I thought it seemed fair. I mean I didn’t absolutely hate it, as there were good spots here and there, but overall I’m glad I got it off my list for good.

There was another children’s classic that I didn’t finish but thought it was worthy a mention here. Upon recommendation, I decided to check out “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery and before going into this, I had just finished “Little Women” so I thought I would mesh fairly well with it. I didn’t. My first thought was I didn’t like how the author used the word “ejaculated” in the beginning of the story as to being a substitute for “gasping” or Louisa May Alcott’s favorite “raptures” but after the first chapter, it kind of disappeared and I thoroughly happy about it!

I can be a big talker when I want to be, and I’m constantly daydreaming just like Anne, but even I thought she was too much for me to handle, so by the time I had passed Chapter 10, I thought it was going by so slowly but slightly amusing to hear this little girl yap about anything and everything. Unfortunately, when I was about to hit Chapter 19, I couldn’t take any more of it. so, I eventually had to find something because this wasn’t working out very well.

Biggest Surprise

Last year, I did something I thought I’d ever do, I watched The Notebook. I still don’t remember what caused me to go for it, other than it must have been on our movie channels constantly and I might’ve been in a huge rom-com mood, and this was what my brain chose first, but I did enjoy myself. It wasn’t too awful, but I still don’t want to watch A Walk to Remember though…

Although I might consider listening to the audiobook instead, since I did give “Safe Haven” a chance back in February. I have watched the film when it came out in 2009, but I have only watched it once so I thought this insight would play in my favor, but it didn’t. I still remembered everything of the movie, but I was shocked when I found myself crying in the middle of the night for certain chapters and the ending really got me good, but now I can’t stand to rewatch the film and that part sucked but I am open to listen to more Nicholas Sparks books in the future!

Favorite new author (Debut or new for you)

For the most part, I have discovered a lot of “new” authors, but my favorites so far have been K.M. Butler, and it was his first historical fiction novel and my first of the new year. I owe him for creating such interesting characters like Halla and Taurin. They came from two separate religions and worlds, but he found a way to make it work and tell the story of how people can accept and change their views for the greater good of others.

Another historical fiction book I found at the end of May, is about Lady Katherine Swymford, simply titled “Katherine”. She was the mistress and later wife and Queen Consort to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was written by Anya Seton in, get this, 1964! Honestly, I thought the author’s not in the beginning was odd, because she explained how her family would travel back to England in the ’50’s and she studied as much as she could that was available at the time, in order to write the story of Katherine de Roet. It just never occurred to me of how old the book itself would be until I did some digging of my own! It is 500 pages long, so I am probably still reading it as this post publishes, but it’s been very interesting so far!

Newest fictional crush

Well, when I started reading Melanie’s “The Road to Valhalla” series, Hervor wasn’t the only one to fall head over heels in love with Prince Hofund. The moment when he and her cousin Leif and their warriors arrive out of the sea and into battle in the second book was amazing because for once everything came so vividly to me at that moment. It wasn’t supposed to be a sexy scene but leave to me to make it that way!

Unfortunately, I have had some difficulty picturing these Viking men lately, sometimes, descriptions can be blurred together for me and since I haven’t watched many films or TV shows set in the Viking world, I don’t know certain hairstyles and/or the ordinary look of these characters, however, I have better luck with the women because it’s easier to picture them for some odd reason.

Book that made you cry

Well, considering I just told you this back in the “Biggest Surprise” question. I have cried to a few others, such as, “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Under the Hunter’s Moon” and “Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak. I am trying like crazy to stay away from those that could turn me into a blubbering mess, but sometimes it just happens without any warning!

Book that made you happy

One of my secondary goals for this year was to read books that have become a film and/or TV series in the last couple of decades; and I had one book where I was curious but worried about because I have watched the film before and hope to show it to my niece and nephew someday. James and the Giant Peach. This was my second Roald Dahl classic and as I was listening to the audiobook for it, I was so happy to know that there wasn’t a lot of things changed for the film, and despite it also discuss childhood abuse and trauma, it is generally a cozy little story.

The second thing that also made me happy was when the book itself was originally released on November 1st, 1964. It actually came out on my birthday, and it was a wonderful surprise after I had finished reading it and the fact that my views on the film adaption didn’t change either made things work so well!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year

The most beautiful book I’ve read this year was definitely “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga. It was exactly what I needed at the time of Ramadan and the start of Eid. I don’t really celebrate the holidays of the Muslim communities and friends, but mainly it was my way of supporting them unknowingly. It was such an adorable, but kind of sad modern children’s book set on a little girl named Jude, who is a Syrian refugee in the Midwest of the United States, and you learn about how she is learning how to adjust to life in America with her mother, as they stay with her uncle’s family.

What books do you still need to read by the end of the year?

By this time, I’d hope to be around 24 books into my initial goal for the year, which is 40-45. I am currently reading six different series, and I’m almost finished with “Harry Potter” and “The Road to Valhalla” series, I doubt I will be able to finish “Deathly Hollows” because I know it’s a giant book and chuck full of information, so I would like to take my time on it, plus I tend to only read my HP books while I am outside with the cats, and really it all of it depends on the weather too, but I am looking forward to completing TWO of them this summer! As for the others, it will be interesting on what actually happens with them.

And then, there’s my notion of finishing the “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners on Tour” by Olivia Cunning series I had mention last year or back in 2020, because those are fairly shorter on their percentages, especially “Wicked Beat” but I don’t know, it’ll just depend on my mood and what I generally want to read for the next half of the year.


Now let’s move on with our next subject. My reading journals.

Before 2022 started, I had a lot of plans and thoughts that I thought would be fun to create in this new venture, but in the last three months I’ve noticed that I am not grabbing neither one of my journals on a daily basis.

The most important spread I use in journals are the monthly trackers. It has been kind of fun shading in a box or circle for every day I’ve read, but recently I’ve had to make a faint line after seven days because for the last five months I’ve been counting each dot in the Blue journal and it can get very frustrating if you’re not careful! In my Green journal, I was smart enough to create an easer tracker system that includes the numbers on the left side of the graph, and I tend to go for that one most of the time; if it wasn’t so heavy I may actually use it everyday!

The second most popular habit tracker is my “amateur” bookshelves I created in the Green journal–I am still very impressed they worked out so well, especially after going over it with my pen! Next time I will just forgo the pen because that was such a disaster! Anyways, I completed one shelf, I did that back in late March or early April I think. It was a quick discovery I will say! I definitely have a lot more Kindle reads but I’ve added one print, two novellas, and seven audiobooks so far! Also, I need o make a not for year to pick prettier colors than gray, pink turquoise and green because they are ugly together!

As for my actually Reading Log, I’ve had to do some editing here and there. Since my overall theme is Harry Potter, I had wanted to use the House colors for each section, but I didn’t have all of the colors so I had to improvise and although I use the heck out of it, my hopes for it didn’t work out well for me but I would like to work on them to do this layout again in 2023.

And my final layout is the end-of-the-month stats and again, I didn’t have big plans for it but I am happy on what I was able to do for it. I have done some updating this past month and I am going to need to create two more blocks for November and December and the end results for the year.

For those who don’t know, I have four things I keep a record of each month and they are: how many books I finish, the number of pages I read, days of the month and finally the selection of words. If you’ve read about the post where I talked about how I wanted a space reserved for all of the words I collect as I read each of these books, mainly because I love to collect but I also wanted an everlasting reminder of the stories.

I apologize for the bad lighting, I decided to take them just after the sun went down and had to deal with my regular light and the shadows of my feet! I bet you never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence! Anyways, for the most part the photos actually came out really good!

Are you the type of person who needs to create a book journal like me? How would you design yours or what has been your favorite layouts/themes? If you don’t have a reading journal or blog, how do you keep track of everything?

snowflake

Book Review: “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga

Hello!

Last year, I was scrolling through Facebook and this meme had popped up from a library, stating mainly to those who are adults, that it is okay to enjoy reading YA (young adult) books. I took this to heart because I have heard of my favorite booktubers feeling uneasy about checking out books in this genre, and to see this slip all throughout my social media has influenced my own journey branching out from other genres that I feel weird reading like children’s literature. I wasn’t a lover of reading (of any kind) when I was little, so now I’m diving deep into classics I had pushed aside in the past.

This book isn’t part of that list, but it is middle grade, which is targeted for students in junior high or middle school, at least that’s what I believe is the meaning behind it. An example of what is considered middle grade are the Harry Potter books. Of course, they take a darker note after ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but for the most part they are always regarded for pre-teens around the ages of 10-15.

WARNING: there are some spoilers below. So, If you are planning on reading the book in the near future, you might want to skip this post!

ac22dcd2adef7d61bc1c64891e1ccd6c

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.


Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

taken from Goodreads.

This was one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read, and a brilliant read for this month as it is Ramadan in the Muslim communities. As you may know, I love to learn, and a few years ago I was introduced to the holiday event Ramadan and Eid. This was one that I was not familiar with, but I was thrilled to learn what people do to celebrate the month of fasting, praying, and ultimately the renewal of life that comes with it. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years, as I always read at least one book around Ramadan, and this year I chose “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga.

This story of a little girl who spent her early years in Syria, living with her family, going to school, and having the typical childhood, until the start of the violence there breaks every thing she is used to, and it immediately made me remember an old friend of mine, her name was Reem, and she lived in Syria. One of her last tweets was in 2014, and honestly, every time she came on with new updates about her and her outlook on the country as a whole was so heartbreaking for us. I haven’t talked about her much because it hurts to know how close she was to it. I don’t know if she made it out of Syria and I’ve checked her previous accounts on Twitter, but there’s nothing there. I always hope she is somewhere free of the chaos and that’s all I can really do.

For our main character Jude, you are able to see the innocence of this young girl navigating this new world in a way; I liked the way, we as the reader, were able to see the good and bad in Jude’s life. She goes to a school in America with her cousin, who was born here. It was interesting to see the differences between these little girls as they are part of the same blood but has been through different things. For Jude’s cousin Sarah, she wouldn’t be totally comfortable accepting a hijab after starting her period. You get the gist right away that she wasn’t raised like that and isn’t very accepting of Jude to being like that.

and I know I am not back home, but here, in this home.

Despite this, there was one girl that was a great addition to Jude’s life, and her name is Layla. She was born in the United States, but her family is from Lebanon and own a Middle Eastern restaurant that Jude visits to enjoy food and love of her native homeland. Layla is a great insight into what it is like for a child who doesn’t feel like she belongs and feels like she’s punished for it. I believe Sarah and Layla respect two sides of what it’s like being a girl in America. If people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. I heard this phrase a lot as a teenager, but it really spoke to me while reading about Jude in this book.

A way of getting acclimated to her new school was instantly being in an ESL class. ESL means “English Second Language” and I can remember seeing several students in school growing up, having to be hallways to learn English, because as far as I knew we didn’t have those at the time. Honestly, it wasn’t until high school we were allowed to choose between two languages to learn as an elective, and they were German and Spanish. In Jude’s case, she has three other students in her class, and they were from other parts of the world, and it was sweet to see them learn slang words like “bougie” (which I did not learn about until I was 28!) and phrases such as, “you know?”

There were so many things I truly adored about this book, but I did not enjoy how it ended. I felt like it should have given the reader more of what happens after that final scene, but instead we were left with a cliffhanger ending and it really angered me because I thought it could have continued on a little more, but I’ll get over it.

Have you read “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga yet? If so, what were your thoughts? What was your favorite scene(s) of the whole book?

snowflake