Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2020 – CW and Skye Read & Loved Graphic Novels and Joce Talks Music and Shows

Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2020 – CW and Skye Read & Loved Graphic Novels and Joce Talks Music and Shows

Following how much we enjoyed putting together August’s Wrap-Up post, we thought we’d do another wrap-up post for September! This month, Skye and I talk about the books we read and the posts we’ve done this month, while Joce talks about what she’s listening to, what she’s watching, and her favourite book that she read this month!

CW’s September Wrap-Up

Books I Read in September

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, with her hands raised by her mouth like she is shouting.

Friends, I read some spectacular books during September. I did read some picture books – research for my own picture book… and because I love picture books! – and also read some amazing graphic novels too. But all in all, I loved most of the books that I read this month, and I am excited to tell you about them.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

41735874. sy475 Sia Martinez is one of the most interesting books I’ve read! I’ve been writing my review for this book for almost two weeks now because… I just do not know how to put how clever and fascinating and layered this book was into words. It’s a story about a Mexican-American teen who is grieving the loss of her mother while also navigating first love, when suddenly her mother emerges, very much alive, from a spacecraft that crash lands in front of her. Loved this book for its poignant, emotional, and powerful exploration of grief, the impact of deportation, and anger at systemic violence. Add this on Goodreads!

A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong

46223347I was provided an eARC of A Map to the Sun – and was pleasantly surprised by how raw and hard-hitting this book would be. It’s a story about girls from different backgrounds and life stories who bond over – of all things – basketball. This is not a squeaky-clean story; it’s a drama-filled story about how girls are messy and imperfect (and absolutely need room to be these things), and that friendships are not always easy but can be tenuous. The art in this is compelling too – bold, striking, and uses colour in such an emotive and atmospheric way. Loved this – and my review for this is coming soon in October. Add to Goodreads.

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

42593850. sx318 I was also given an eARC for this book and it is now one of my favourite books of all time and I just… I desperately need to get myself a physical copy so I can just clutch it to my chest. This book made me smile, made me laugh, made me ache, and chief of all, made me so grateful to be alive. This story is about a young girl who doesn’t really want to grow up and becomes best friend with a ghost that haunts her house. It’s a story about friendship, growing up and growing old, and that friendships last forever. The art in this book is gorgeous – so vibrant, so full of energy and life, and so adorable too. Ugh, now I’m crying just thinking about it. Add to Goodreads.

Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park

I was provided a copy of this book by the publicist in exchange for a review! Loathe at First Sight had a bit of an unsteady start for me, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. The book follows a Korean-American woman who works as a video game producer, and it’s about her hate-to-love romance with the company intern while also exploring the rampant sexism and misogyny in the gaming industry and community. This book is a little ridiculous times – in a charming way – and it isn’t afraid to get silly. Add to Goodreads.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

52886627I’m not a big romance reader but WOW – You Had Me at Hola was amazing and I had so much fun reading this. The book follows two actors, the leads and stars of the next biggest telenovela, and how they slowly fall for each other – even though they both have their own reasons not to. Sizzling chemistry, a great and compelling emotional connection, colleagues-to-friends-to-lovers, and an exciting backdrop of the set, I think You Had Me at Hola is the romance of the year for me. Add to Goodreads.

The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao

I was given an eARC of this book as part of the blog tour for The Fallen Hero – look forward to my tour stop on the 9th of October! – and I absolutely loved this sequel to The Dragon Warrior. If you have read my review for The Dragon Warrior, then you’ll know that I loved it. To anyone out there who has read it – or is interested in reading it (dragons! the Chosen One trope! except the Chosen One is a young Asian girl! a story about belonging and friendships and siblings and adventures!), then rest assured: The Fallen Hero holds a candle to the first book. Add to Goodreads.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

52339313. sy475 What a book! Cemetery Boys is an incredible debut and there’s a good reason why it is so loved right now. The story follows Yadriel, a trans teen who wants to prove to his family that he’s a brujo. When he calls on Lady Death, he accidentally summons the ghost of local bad boy, Julian. I loved this book; loved how this book explores the intersection of Latinx identity, family, and gender, loved the soft and tender romance, and also just loved the supernatural mystery subplot! I really enjoyed this and absolutely think everyone should read it. Add to Goodreads.

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros 

52507955. sx318 sy475 I don’t really remember why I decided to pick up Efrén Divided, but I’m glad I did. This was a hard-hitting MG, incredibly emotional, and I think a story that will be so important for some young Mexican readers out there. The book follows Efrén, whose world is turned upside down when his Amá is deported. This story explores the heavy burden placed on young children, especially the eldest siblings, who now have to be the second parent while also grappling with school, homework, friendship troubles, and supporting his father. I shed a tear while reading this; a good emotional read. Add to Goodreads.

CW’s Posts During September

I reviewed The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert and Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko – and absolutely loved both! 

I interviewed middle-grade author Remy Lai about her latest book, Fly on the Wall! I loved Fly on the Wall and it was awesome to finally chat to Remy and learn more about her process.

An illustration of Amina the hedgehog, reading a romance book with hearts on it, while under a snug demisexual flag blanket. Title: Reading romance while demisexual. A discussion about my experiences of reading romance, my struggle with connection, and why i love friends to lovers.

I talked about my personal experience of reading romance while demisexual! This was a challenging piece to write, but I also really enjoyed the exploratory process of writing and expressing my feelings. 

Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month Edition. A month celebrating latinx voices and literature.

We kicked off Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond! We’ve had some amazing guests so far, and I highly, highly encourage you all to read through the interviews and cool discussions we’ve shared so far! For a full list of all the guests we’ve had, I am continually updating the page as more guests come to visit!

A preview of a book cover reveal for Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan. Snippet of the book cover depicts two people walking next to each other, with their legs and feet shown.

We hosted the exclusive cover reveal and excerpt for Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan! I absolutely loved working with Tashie to put this together, so if you haven’t seen the cover for her debut romantic contemporary, head on over and behold its beauty. 

Other Stuff CW Did In September

  • I drew fanart for The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum! I love Ryann and Alexandria, and I just… wanted to capture the tenderness and affection between the two. I hope I did it justice!
  • The Pond revamp is still trucking along… very slowly. But! Good news is that I’ve finalised the post banners and will soon be moving onto the big blog banner. You can expect that the Pond will be much more visual, much cuter, and hopefully more immersive! 
  • I’ve been trying to get into my creative projects! I’ve revived #chickenWIP and have been doing a lot of research for my #foodstallWIP. 

Skye’s September Wrap-Up

Books I Read in September

Sprout the sparrowing, thinking with a pen in their hand.

This month was less than ideal for me in the reading department, since college has finally restarted and I no longer have the ample free time I once did to lounge around and jump from one book to the next. :’) As I’m writing this, I’ve read five books in total — two of which are comics! Thank the stars for the accessibility of comics and graphic novels. And a little serendipitously, all the books I’ve read are also sapphic!

Iron Heart by Nina Varela

Oh, where even to begin with this book. This was perhaps one of my most anticipated books of the year simply by virtue of being the sequel to one of my favorite books from 2019, and it lived up to all of my sky-high expectations and then more. I wrote a full review for this (that’s linked further below) that I think articulates my thoughts on the story better, but honestly all you need to know that somehow the yearning in this book has increased elevenfold, and that my heart ached throughout the entire reading experience. If you haven’t picked up Crier’s War yet, let me assure you that the series will be one for the history books.

Add this book to Goodreads!

Don’t Go Without Me by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Reading this collection of comics was a breathtaking experience. These are three short, perfectly-realised meditations on the themes of love, memory, and the existential meaning of being alive, and I was so floored by the lyrical writing and the flow of this book. It was… so full of yearning. The stories felt like fairytales, dreams—all captured in the author’s immaculately detailed art & framing. I know this description is kind of abstract and doesn’t really say a lot about what’s in the book but I feel like discovering what’s within is a worthy adventure unto its own. What I will say (as a basic introduction to the book) is that the comics are speculative and also mostly sapphic. I’d give my kingdom to experience this collection for the first time again.

Add this book to Goodreads!

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I included this adorable YA contemporary in last month’s wrap-up as well, and I finally managed to finish reading it yesterday! God, this was good. I can’t believe this was a debut. The story is so warm and so engaging, and the main characters are incredibly lovable and easy to root for. The heartfelt story follows a teen Black girl trying to carve out a space for herself in a place that isn’t meant for her—and I thought this book was such a faithful and true representation of how all this can be empowering and fulfilling, but also exhausting. I’m so glad that kids growing up today will have this book. If you’re in the mood for something a little more light-hearted but still immensely compelling, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this book.

Add this book to Goodreads!

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This book squeezed in right at the last minute after I thought I was done with this post. I always love when novels-in-verse take me by surprise like this. Throughout my reading experience, I felt like all over again I was rediscovering my undying love for Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing—her instinct for poetic language, the way she strings together heartfelt stories about complicated girls, and the sheer depth of emotions she has such a firm grasp on. This is a book about two girls having to deal with the aftermath of finding out their father had two families: one in New York, and one in the Dominican Republic that he returns to every summer. They’re sisters, and they don’t know it… yet. Embedded within their grief following the fallout of their father’s death in a plane crash is a story of legacies, of family, and an overflowing love for Dominican culture—there’s a poem about leaving home that swelled my heart with so much ache. If you loved The Poet X, you’ll probably find that something in this book that feels like it was written for you too.

Add this book to Goodreads!

Skye’s Posts During September

I interviewed Reimena Yee, author of the witchy, coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel Séance Tea Party! Reimena’s such an icon in the local comics industry, and getting to peek behind the curtain of her process and inspiration for the book was an absolute honor.

I was on the blog tour for Iron Heart by Nina Varela! Huge thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for having me on. I gave the book a glowing review, and made a short little fanart comic of my favorite quote from the story. This was such a delightful conclusion to the series, and I’m honored to have read it early!

Other Stuff Skye Was Up to in September

  • I got very into Notion, an all-in-one organisation and database app, and the app kind of just spread like wildfire over book Twitter after my tweet, which is WILD? Look at this cute little dashboard we made for the Pond!
  • The cover for the SOUND comics anthology was revealed! This indie Southeast Asian anthology features thirteen stories from storytellers all across the region, including a comic I made with my friend Zhen about a complicated parent-child relationship with just a touch of magic. It is due to release later in October, and you can find more details here on the publisher’s page!
  • I was commissioned a bookplate design as part of a preorder incentive for Diana Pinguicha’s A Curse of Roses!
  • In the real world, I am unfortunately back at college for the first semester of my senior year (what!). I’ll be embarking on my dissertation this semester, so if you have brain cells to spare please send them over.

Joce’s September Wrap-Up

An illustration of Cuddle the otter, sleeping.

Well, if I thought August was a wildly busy month, September has been even worse. My reading has slowed from a snail’s pace to a sea cucumber’s pace, but thankfully I was still able to read a few books I liked, and one I absolutely loved. I have been consuming stories in other media when I am super exhausted after my daughter has gone to bed, so I would love to tell you about a few in this wrap-up!

First of all, I have been consciously trying to listen to more music and proactively discover more artists. For a medley of unnamed reasons, I have harshly neglected listening to music and pursuing a connection with music over the past several years and I am forcefully taking it upon myself to fix that relationship. If you didn’t know this about me, am a pop punk princess to the core and before COVID, went to Warped tour yearly, sometimes even by myself. A new pop punk band I have discovered recently is Stand Atlantic, a woman-fronted band with a We Are the In Crowd feel. Here’s their song Lavender Bones.

Secondly, I receive an immense amount of joy and oh boy the serotonin from the show The Masked Singer. There is something about guessing who the B list 90s celebrities are every week that brings me so much happiness. Side note: I have the curse of loving the runners up every season (like, literally, I recognized their voices within seconds and knew every clue because I was obsessed with learning random trivia about them). The new season just started and I am so stoked.

Last but certainly not least, my favorite book I read this month is a very recently released title, Miss Meteor by Tehlor Key Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore. The premise revolves around a small town called Meteor in New Mexico. Every year, the Miss Meteor beauty pageant takes place, whose contestants are mostly comprised of high school seniors, and the winners are mostly thin, straight, white girls.

Chicky and Lita are both brown Latinx girls. Lita is fat, and Chicky is masc-leaning and pansexual, with on-page representation. They are ex-best friends and they team up to attempt to win the Miss Meteor pageant. Throughout the book they find true love and compassion for themselves, as well as finding their way back to their friendship. The book radiates queer self-love (although there are two friends to lovers relationships, they are not the center of the plot at all) and celebrates queer beauty. At many points in the book they either say or show that any negative talk about their presence or bodies is a “you” problem and not a “me” problem. It is such a joyful book and such a light this month. I looked forward to reading it every day over the… um… two weeks it took me to do so.

Aaaaand that’s me, signing off! Going to nap now. Bye.


Books That We Read Together

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

CW: I said this in my Goodreads review, but I’ll say it again: this book literally propelled me back to my teenage years when I was in toxic relationships. Mariko Tamaki gets it, and I’m in awe of how… subtle this book was. It wasn’t heavy-handed at all, and the small things, small gestures, small emotions really resonated with me. Rosemary’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous – a beautiful blend of soft and incisive. Ultimately, I loved that this book offers a very simple yet poignant message that will be empowering to people who are or were in toxic relationships. An amazing, amazing read.

Skye: I had… tears after finishing this. I cannot believe I hadn’t read this comic until now. This was a perfect exploration of messy queer romance and toxic relationships—and it has grace in abundance for teenagers royally messing up as they navigate the murky waters of finding out who they want to be. It’s rather intense throughout because of its candor in portraying just how dangerous and heady toxic relationships are, especially when you’re in the midst of one and cannot really see how it’s affecting your mental state and the people around you, but make no mistake, it’s also hilarious; the dialogue is some of the wittiest I’ve read in books period in a while. Altogether a heartwarming, beautiful read.

Add this book to Goodreads!

2 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2020 – CW and Skye Read & Loved Graphic Novels and Joce Talks Music and Shows

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