2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, booktube, readathons, reviews, videos

Reading Women Month Bingo – First Check-in!

Hey friends! I am participating in Reading Women Month Bingo for June and finally got around to my first check in (June 1-7). This is such a fun challenge and I look forward to reading more books on the board!

Here’s the site, if you want more info: https://www.readingwomenpodcast.com/reading-women-challenge-2019

2019, Books, Favorites, reviews

The Grisha Trilogy (aka Shadow and Bone Trilogy)

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2012
These covers were published in 2017

Synopsis: Alina’s dormant powers awaken after a near-death experience in The Fold with her best friend Mal. Alina trains with the Grisha that are led by The Darkling, however, secrets and mysteries are about to unravel and create chaos across Ravka.

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2013

Synopsis: After a battle in The Fold, Alina and Mal barely escape across the sea. Believing Alina to have died, the Apparat sets up a cult that follows Sankta Alina, the Sun Summoner. However, Alina and Mal return to try and save Ravka with the help of the Privateer Sturmhond.

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2014

Synopsis: The Darkling is set on destroying Ravka and it is up to Alina, Mal, Nikolai and their armies to stop him. Histories and secrets are revealed that may change the tide in their favor, but at what cost?

I love this series! It’s my second time reading it and I think it was even better this time around. There are two spin-off duologies so far, a plethora of short stories, and a tv show that is currently in production!

The world is so interesting and built very well. The magic is believable and described easy enough to understand, even if one isn’t an experienced fantasy reader. The histories, mythologies and backstories are very intriguing and are one of my favorite parts about this series. It creates a rich world and this has a lot of potential as a tv series. I hope they do it well!

What I liked: There are tons of action scenes and each book moves pretty fast. I’ve often found that trilogies slow down in the second books and sometimes appear as filler, but this doesn’t do that. There is a lot happening and the characters are constantly kept on their toes. The magic is really interesting and it continues to change and improve throughout the books. Bardugo uses actual science phenomenons like light bending to make it even more realistic, which I think is cool. Additionally, the weapons are a combination of modern and historic items, giving this world the unique feel that it’s not medieval nor futuristic. Finally, the characters are funny, the banter isn’t cringey and the relationships are dynamic. Often I’ve found YA novels to include lots of silly dialogue but this was fun and I enjoyed it. The romance was a big part but it also moved the plot along, which was nice. By the way, Nikolai Lantsov is one of the best characters and I am so looking forward to his duology!

What I didn’t like: There isn’t much but most of it is based on overused character tropes. You’ve got the sickly, plain, boring, sad, little peasant girl who is The Chosen One. Her best friend is gorgeous and she doesn’t see why he likes her and keeps questioning it, which does get a little tedious and obnoxious. You’ve got the giant, strong warrior who is actually a softy; you’ve got the beautiful but super mean girl; the nerdy scientist; the shallow and beautiful slave who actually has more depth; the shallow prince; the evil king; the villain who has good intentions; etc. They just get old after a while. However, I still like each character and the way Bardugo wrote them wasn’t groan-inducing or distracting.

Final thoughts: I just love this series and I encourage everyone to read it. With Bardugo executive producing the show, I really hope it stays true to the series and brings it all to life for us. Go read it!

TV series announcement: https://deadline.com/2019/01/netflix-orders-shadow-and-bone-series-leigh-bardugo-grishaverse-fantasy-novels-1202532783/

Spin-off duologies:

2019, Books, booktube, reading, reviews

How I Rate What I Read

Hey friends!

While I don’t typically rate books on the blog, I will mention if I enjoyed or disliked something and why. On Goodreads, I provide ratings for anything I read, unless it’s a DNF (I don’t think it’s fair to rate something I didn’t complete). But how do I get to these ratings and what are some examples for each?

In this video I discuss these things and hopefully you find it useful in determining if you’d follow my recommendations, or if it explains why we may disagree on something and why.

2019, Books, booktube, readathons, Reading the World, reviews, videos

Asian Readathon Updates & Reviews

Hey friends! I participated in Asian Readathon and wanted to share what I read and some of my thoughts. There were 4 challenges and I met them all 🙂

Title: Sailor Moon: Eternal Edition 1
Original Title: Bishōjo senshi Sailor Moon Kanzenban #1
Country of Origin: Japan
Author: Naoko Takeuchi
Genre: Fantasy Manga
Published: 2013

Synopsis: Usagi Tsukino, a clumsy teenager who finds joy in eating, sleeping and playing video games, finds out she is Sailor Moon, Guardian of Freedom and Justice. She must protect Tokyo from evil invaders and find her fellow guardians.

Title: Don’t Let Him Know
Author: Sandip Roy
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2015

Synopsis: After Amit finds a mysterious letter indicating one of his parents had an affair, we catch glimpses into the lives of his family and their stories.

Title: The Vegetarian
Original Title: Chaesikjuuija
Country of Origin: South Korea
Author: Han Kang
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2007

Synopsis: After haunting nightmares she can’t shake, Yeong-hye decides to become a vegetarian. Her family doesn’t agree and her life quickly spirals out of control.

Title: Number One Chinese Restaurant
Author: Lillian Le
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2018

Synopsis: Beneath the facade of a popular Chinese restaurant lie family secrets and ambitions that might tear apart the restaurant and the family legacy.

2019, 2019 unhaul challenge, Books, videos

2019 Unhaul Challenge Official Update #1: Jan – Apr

Hey friends!

Here are the books that I’ve read from my 2019 Unhaul Challenge so far. It’s been a mixed bag and I’ve had some hits and misses.

For more info on the challenge, visit: https://allthesewanders.com/2019/02/11/2019-unhaul-challenge/

For reviews of each book and why I didn’t or did like it, visit: https://allthesewanders.com/tag/2019-unhaul-challenge/

Books, Reading the World, Travel

Reading the World

I personally love to travel. I’ve visited, lived, and traveled through quite a few countries and states and can’t wait to do more. In the interim until I travel again, I figured the best way to experience other countries and cultures is to dive into some stories and learn from those who are from other places. So I’ve made a list of places that I want to travel to via books and I hope you join me on the journey!

This is by far an original idea. A few years ago, a blogger made national news for reading a book from every country and this inspired me back then. I’ve also seen a few other Booktubers and Goodreads groups that focus on reading books from other places or that are translated as well. I’ve combined their ideas to mold it into something that works for me and then expanded upon it.

I started by purchasing two different maps – a World Scratch-off Map and a United States Map.

I didn’t want to count 1 single book as representative for the US as each state is so unique and the stories that come out of them are as well. That began to spin the wheel and I figured I should do the same for other large countries like Canada, Russia, China, and Australia. I also lived in the UK and know how different England is from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and how each have counties and territories that should also be considered. So I broke it out further.

There may be some other countries that I will try and read multiple books from, such as Japan (mainland vs. Okinawa for example) or Germany (Bavaria vs. Berlin for example) to really experience different stories. I did not break apart countries that are smaller in size simply because it’s too much work at this time and will cause me to never finish this. So while I acknowledge there are many countries with more than one region, the geographically large ones are broken apart. I also have to consider translations and availability so that creates further problems to read each region.

So there you have it! This is how I will try and read the world! I am so excited and know this is such a huge project, that I’ve gone through my Goodreads Read Shelf and counted those I’ve already read (whether it was in school as assigned reading, or just individual reading I did several years back). With this in mind, I’ve read:

– 6 unique countries
– 3 UK counties
– 7 US states

Here is what that looks like. Notice, I won’t mark off the countries I’ve broken apart until I’ve read at least a good chunk that represents the region (in my opinion).

What I won’t count: After going through my Goodreads, I noticed that a ton of what I’ve read is fantasy and therefore won’t count for this. I also don’t think I will count anything that takes place equally in 2 locations unless I can’t find anything else representing that country. For example, I read Station Eleven, which takes place in Toronto and Minnesota. I am sure I can find stories set in them individually so I’d rather keep this off the list (for now). I also don’t think I will count anything that isn’t plausible, such as paranormal fiction. For example, I’ve read a few of the Laurell K. Hamilton “Anita Blake” novels and they are set in St. Louis. However, I just would rather count something set fictionally but more realistic in the same area. I also won’t count anything I’ve DNF’d.

What I will count: I think memoirs, autobiographies, history books and other nonfiction is a good consideration. I will also count literary and historical fiction and some genre fiction if it’s plausible, such as a dystopian setting in a particular country or science fiction that focuses on one region. This will be a little more analyzed with each book and I’ll determine if they count as I read them. I will also count more than one province, county or state for the countries I’ve broken into parts. For example, Pride & Prejudice takes place in both Hertfordshire and Derbyshire, so I will consider them both as read under England Counties.

I am looking forward to this project! I know it will likely take me forever to do this and I may never finish it, but at least it gets me motivated to branch out more. I’ve always loved experiencing other countries and cultures and consider “wanderlust” as one of the most accurate words to describe me. So much that I actually have a tattoo of it! While I know I can’t go see every place I’d like to in real life, I can experience them through books. I’m pretty excited and will provide updates whenever I’ve read a few and scratched off some areas on the map.

What have you read that is from a country other than your own and do you have any recommendations? Even if a country is marked off, I am totally ok with reading another from the same area because each story is unique and it relieves my travel itch!

International Books

Books in the United States