July Wrap-Up

It’s that time of the month! Let’s get straight to it!

dividerTotal Books Read: 7
Total Books From Planned TBR: 7/11

I’m actually really proud of that considering I’m a huge mood reader. For some reason I want to be able to stick to TBR’s more consistently. I just think it makes for more organized content for myself later on lol. Other than that, I’ve been trying to read 10 books a month, but Jade War took up a lot of time so I’m still going to call this a win! ^^


Books Read

 In Waves by AJ Dungo ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
»my review« Bittersweet and informative but ultimately too simple for me. Fun fact, though! I couldn’t figure out why the author’s name sounded so familiar, and then I realized I used to play Lineage 2 with one of him and a few of his friends about 15 years ago. I checked his Facebook page to confirm, and sure enough it was him and he talked about publishing this graphic novel! Small freaking world. o.o

 Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (arc) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Full review to come closer to publishing date, and I’m also still trying to process this. Orpheus Girl tells the story of two sapphic young women in conservative Texas who are caught together in a compromising position and are sent to conversion therapy camp. Major trigger warnings for homophobia, torture, depression, and suicide. Let’s just say, I am cishet, and this book physically hurt me. I gave this a 3 stars for the same reason I gave Fat Girl on a Plane 3 stars: it illustrates a cruel truth about the world yet still tells an important story.

 Stardust by Neil Gaiman ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Whenever I think of the word “whimsical” I will forever think of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I listened to this as an audiobook because it’s narrated by Neil Gaiman and I was easily and eagerly sucked into the little town of Wall and the world beyond. The lyrical prose and Gaiman’s soft and comforting voice set the tone for a perfect fairy tale. I plan to do a mini review of this one as soon as I get to Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane.

 Jade War by Fonda Lee (arc) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Review to come because I once again deleted it with no way to get it back. -.- This was awesome!! It expanded on the world and characters of Jade City, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as carefully as I did this one (which is why it took forever). I have so many thoughts on this, and even though I gave it 5 stars, I don’t know if I can say it’s perfect. For now I’m settling with “clever but I’m salty” ehe…

 The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas (arc) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Review to come closer to publishing date! The Magnolia Sword is an #ownvoice Mulan retelling that is more historically accurate than Disney’s Mulan. I changed my rating from 5 stars to 4 stars because its length didn’t allow for chemistry to build between characters and information about the world was dumpy everywhere. However, for some reason I flew threw this in 2 days because I still thought it was an enjoyable read.

 Heartstopper by Alice Oseman ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This was really cute, but I need to read the next installment to have a real feel for the story. Essentially, this is about two boys who become friends over rugby. One is out as gay and the other is questioning his sexuality. I have a feeling I’m going to love the series as a whole, but for now I’m going to stick with a safe 3 stars. Mini review to come along with Heartstoppers Vol. 2!

 Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
RTC! o.o Um…holy shit?? I heard this was steamy but woaaaaa was this steamy! Imagine reading this several feet away from your mother (obvs. like me). I had to leave the living room because I was scared to make embarrassing faces in front of my family. Needless to say, there were much more sexy times than I’m used to, but there was also a lot of plot, too! I had so much fun reading this and would also love recommendations for books like it… but I think I might also need Jesus >.>


Book Reviews

 The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
 Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
 In Waves by AJ Dungo
 One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

dividerBlog Hop
Posts I loved by you! 

This pirate captain’s review of Gods of Jade and Shadow.
This adorable Pancake Book Tag and Mukbang from Elaine from Elaine Howlin
This interview with Rebecca Kuang that made me wonder how someone so young could be so talented from Petrick Leo of Novel Notions. 
This review of The Rage of Dragons that got my hype for this book from Hiu Gregg of The Fantasy Inn
This post on broken, awkward, incompetent, and mismatched heroes that made me nod in agreement over and over again from Kathy at Pages Below the Vaulted Sky
This review of Jade City that made me remember why I love the Green Bone Saga so much by Mr. Renzol

dividerWhew! Done! I’m hoping my allergies and migraines go away soon so I can get back into the swing of things, but overall, I had an enjoyable month! How was yours? Any new favorites or interesting discussion posts I should check out? Let me know!

Cya! ^^

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One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – Washington Square Press
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Romance

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divider“True love doesn’t always last,” I say. “It doesn’t always have to be for a lifetime”

I feel really bad because I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, also by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I had to stop myself from DNF’ing this multiple times. I should have expected I would find this super tropey because the premise definitely is tropey. A happy couple are married and in love when suddenly one of them gets caught in a helicopter crash and is never to be seen again. And of course several years later he comes back but his believed-to-be-widowed wife is engaged. I should have figured this wouldn’t do it for me but I read it all anyways ><!

I think the main problem is the story moved too fast. We go through Emma and Jesse’s first meeting in high school, their marriage, Jesse’s crash, Emma’s grievance, and then we immediately experience Emma moving on and meeting Sam, them dating, and then them getting engaged. There wasn’t enough time to flesh out any of Emma’s lovers, so I didn’t care when her husband died, and I didn’t feel for Emma’s husband or fiancé when her husband came back.

Also, from the very beginning I knew who Emma would choose in the end because one man was obviously written to be unlikable while the other one was written to be lovable. I believe the author’s intention in writing Emma’s lovers was to show how people change from one period of life to the next, but I don’t think one period of life is necessarily better than the other so I don’t think one man should have felt likable and the other unlikable.

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing is also very personal. While her character’s introspection resonated with me in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, it did nothing for me in One True Loves. A lot of it had to to with love, and I’m not sure I agree with Emma’s thoughts.

It was a quick and easy read but not one of my favorites.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl. Hop on over to their page and show them some love!

Hey everyone! I’ve always wanted to join Top Ten Tuesday but didn’t think I would be able to come up with a list of 10 things for each prompt. This time around I’ve decided if that happens I’ll just have a shorter list than everyone lol.

This week’s prompt is auto-buy authors, and I somehow managed to come up with 10 of them. This wasn’t the easiest list because there are some authors who have some works I’ve adored but also have other titles I’m not interested in.  For example, Catherynne M. Valente and Leigh Bardugo have written some of my favorite books but, unfortunately, they didn’t make my list. 

But here are the authors who did.


N.K. Jemisin

Fonda Lee

Notable Works:
Jade City
Jade War

Marissa Meyer

Rin Chupeco

Brandon Sanderson

Christina Lauren

Angie Thomas

Claire Legrand

Laini Taylor

Alexandra Christo 


Have you read any of these authors’ works? Did you love them? Hate them? Let me know in the comments! Until next time!

Cya! ^^

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TBR Lows and Highs #1

TBR Lows and Highs was created by the lovely Destiny over at Howling Libraries. Destiny is super down to earth and always has the most fun content. Go check her out!

Hey everyone! I’ve wanted to join in on this meme since Destiny created it but stopped blogging before I got to it. Now I’m back, still (and will probably forever >.>) have a TBR problem, and am finally going to post my first TBR Lows and Highs.

Let’s get to it!



Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
Find 5 titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”) OR find 5 titles that are at the BOTTOM of your TBR—books you want to read someday, just not right now!
Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation
Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)



There’s no real reason why these made it onto my lows. I just don’t think I’ll ever get to them.

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
It by Stephen King
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah



Note: All synopses are taken from Goodreads.

Beyond the Shadowed Earth
by: Joanna Ruth Meyer

It has always been Eda’s dream to become empress, no matter the cost. Haunted by her ambition and selfishness, she’s convinced that the only way to achieve her goal is to barter with the gods. But all requests come with a price and Eda bargains away the soul of her best friend in exchange for the crown.

Years later, her hold on the empire begins to crumble and her best friend unexpectedly grows sick and dies. Gnawed by guilt and betrayal, Eda embarks on a harrowing journey to confront the very god who gave her the kingdom in the first place. However, she soon discovers that he’s trapped at the center of an otherworldly labyrinth and that her bargain with him is more complex than she ever could have imagined

The Tattered Banner
by: Duncan M. Hamilton

Unique talent always attracts attention.

In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams.

Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim’s Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief.

Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.

House of Earth and Blood
by: Sarah J. Maas

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savouring every pleasure Lunathion—otherwise known as Crescent City— has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city—and Bryce’s world.

Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye—and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.

Burning Chambers
by: Kate Mosse

France, 1562: Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: SHE KNOWS THAT YOU LIVE.

But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes her destiny forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to stay alive.

As the religious divide deepens, and old friends become enemies, Minou and Piet both find themselves trapped in Toulouse, facing new dangers as tensions ignite across the city.

All the while, the shadowy mistress of Puivert Château—obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a long-hidden document—strengthens her power and waits for the perfect time to strike…

The Gilded King
by: Josie Jaffrey

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.


Are there any interesting books you added to your TBR lately? Do you think I should keep any of the books on my lows? I’d love to know in the comments!

Cya! ^^

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In Waves by AJ Dungo

In Waves
Author: AJ Dungo
Publisher: Nobrow
Release Date: June 1, 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Non-fiction
Content Warning: Character death, Grief

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“I can’t claim surfing as my own but its characters do resonate with me. We share an obsession for riding waves, a deep reverence for the ocean, and a broken heart.”

I picked up a copy of In Waves at a librarian conference because aside from finding out that AJ Dungo is a Filipino author/illustrator, I thought the cover looked pretty, and I wanted to add to my graphic novel collection. I thought it would be a cute and quick read that would teach me a little about the history of surfing in a fun way. 

This graphic novel recounts the lives of the author/illustrator and his late girlfriend from when they meet to when she dies of cancer. We also learn some of the history of surfing as the author compares his grief over the loss of his girlfriend to waves that come and go. 

Each timeline is distinguished by color. Panels that illustrate the history of surfing are in brown while panels that illustrate the author and his partner’s life are in blue. I admit, I don’t know much about digital art, but I thought the illustrations were simple yet stunning. There were hardly any text, but some of the best moments were when there were no text at all. 

We learn part of the history of surfing through some of the greats. Duke Kahanamoku modernized surfing while Tom Blake created equipment that made surfing more accessible to people of all skill levels. Their stories and AJ Dungo’s partner, Kristen, a girl who lived her limited life to the fullest teach us that life is limited so we should make sure we enjoy it.

Though I felt for the author and enjoyed learning about surfing, I think this graphic novel could have been edited more. I didn’t feel like the history and Kristen’s story wrapped up tightly enough, and the ending felt out of place and may have been better somewhere in the middle. 

Though I loved some parts of In Waves, it was just okay for me. I am, however, looking forward to AJ Dungo’s future works. 


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Wicked Fox by Kat Cho


Title: Wicked Fox

Author: Kat Cho

Published by: Penguin Random House – Putnam on June 25, 2019.

Genre: YA Fantasy, Mythology, Romance

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I previously wrote a 6 paragraph review of this while at the airport but then accidentally deleted it with no way to get it back, but let’s try this again because I absolutely loved Wicked Fox and need to talk about it!

In Wicked Fox, Miyoung is half human, half gumiho. Every 100 days she needs to feed off the gi of people to live and keep her immortality. Because of this, she keeps to herself and has never made any true friends. Jihoon is a charming yet lazy high school student whose mother left him to his halmeoni when he was just a baby. He first gets involved with Miyoung when he gets attacked in the forest and Miyoung saves him.

Kat Cho’s writing is both accessible yet atmospheric and rich with Korean culture and mythos. Cho, a Korean author, sets her story in modern day Korea so we get a chance to experience Korean family dynamics, language, mannerisms, and customs. She also expands on the gumiho legend every few chapters which adds to the magical atmosphere. After the prologue, the pacing is a little slow for awhile, but I think it helps to set up the rest of the story.

I really like the exploration and execution of the themes. First, Kat Cho explores what it means to be alive through the lives of Miyoung and Jihoon. Miyoung is immortal. She may live forever, but she spends her life in isolation never making lasting relationships and never experiencing what most teenagers get to experience in fear of someone finding out her secret of being a gumiho. She wants for nothing because her mother, who is also a gumiho, has lived long enough to get her anything she wants. Yet her mother is old enough to know how to survive and is hardly around to make sure she and Miyoung keep on surviving. On the other hand, there is mortal Jihoon. He will obviously not live forever, but he’s had lasting relationships since he was a kid. He is also not financially wealthy, but has a close and affectionate relationship with his halmeoni and never has to worry about not being able to live his life to the fullest.

Next we see different expressions of maternal love through Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s guardians. First, there is Jihoon’s mother. She had Jihoon when she was very young and left him with his halmeoni when he was just a baby. Though in present time Jihoon has no relationship with his mother and even seems to resent her, he is also curious about her, and she seems to be curious about him, too. Next, there is Jihoon’s halmeoni. She constantly scolds and yells at Jihoon, but there is no doubt that she loves him. Miyoung even points out how her relationship with Jihoon is so comfortable they don’t even notice how easily they love each other.

“Jihoon and his halmeoni moved with such consideration for each other, a lifetime of learned behavior. She spooned some of her meat into his bowl. He nudged the cucumber kimchi closer to her before she reached for it… How could two people go from shouting in the street to sharing such a loving meal? They were so at ease with their love. They fought and laughed and adored each other so openly.”

Finally there is Miyoung’s mother, Yena. Yena is always on the move. She does not see her daughter often and also expects the best from her. Though Yena and Miyoung don’t have the most affectionate relationship, all Yena does is for Miyoung and she always reminds Miyoung that she is her daughter and that makes her “smart and beautiful and strong, and loved.” In return, Miyoung loves and is loyal to her. Yena is one of my favorite characters in this story because her relationship with Miyoung reminds me of my relationship with my mother before I reached adulthood. I consider my mom one of my best friends now, but she was incredibly strict while I was growing up because she wanted me to survive and succeed.

My only gripe and the only reason this book didn’t get 5 stars from me is the romance. I loved the slow-burn developing friendship, but I personally think the romance felt forced. Other than that I had such a fun 6-hour flight because of this book, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment!


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dividerI received an ARC from the publisher, Penguin Random House, via Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. Quotes were taken from an unfinished proof copy and may not be the same in the finished work.


July TBR

Hey everyone!

First things first, some of you may have already noticed, but I changed my blog name.  I wasn’t happy with Milkz’ Bookshelf when I first created this blog, but not having a blog name was preventing me from actually having a blog. Milkz is part of an old gamer name that I don’t even use anymore. I’ve finally settled on Justine Time, and I’m liking it a lot better. More on it in my ‘About’ section coming soon.

Moving on!

I used to never make TBR’s because I am a huge mood reader, but I’ve gotten used to completing them for Reading Rivalry. You can check it out here, but in short, each month people are put into 1 of 5 teams. The goal is for your team to read the most pages in a month. There are also 10 prompts and about 8 bonus challenges you can complete to gain even more points. I’ve been joining the Reading Rivalry challenge since it first started, so I thought I would finally mention it here.

Aside from Reading Rivalry, I’m also joining the Book Junkie Trials. GO TEAM MAGI!!! \o/

July TBR

Note: I’ve already read a couple of these before posting.

• Stardust by Neil Gaiman

• The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (arc)

• Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry (arc)

• The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh (arc)

• The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

• Jade War by Fonda Lee

• In Waves by AJ Dungi

• Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

• The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas (arc)

• Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor (arc)

• Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Have you read any of these? Are there any in particular that you’re excited to read? What are some books you’ll be reading this month? I’d love to know in the comments!

Cya! ^^


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