Let’s Rewind: January 2023

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done one of these posts (not since mid 2021, I think) that I feel much out of practice. But I’d like to bring it back this year. These posts then to be long (heh, heh), but they let me chat about books I wouldn’t otherwise review (those I reread) and share thoughts on things I wouldn’t do a separate post for.

Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.

2021 and 2022 were such stressful, busy, trying years for me that I was surprised when I felt light and unburdened when January 2023 rolled around. I hope it’s a sign for how the rest of the year will be.

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ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2022

In case you were wondering, the answer is yes, I’m making a list for everything, lol. J/k. But since my favorite and most memorable reads are out the way, it makes sense to share what disappointed me too.

I always feel like I have to include a disclaimer of some sort when posting lists like this about books I gave a low rating or that disappointed me since doing so is such a contentious issue these days. But as a reader, lists like this are helpful to me too, and I sometimes get recommendations from them as well. Plus I’m here to share my love of books and reading, which includes talking about what didn’t work.

I only have a few here because a) I didn’t read many books in 2022, and b) I enjoyed most of what I read.

Wytches, Vol. 0: Bad Egg Halloween Special by Scott Snyder, illus. by Jock ★★☆☆☆

This prequel to the Wytches horror comic book is probably the most disappointing thing I read in 2022. I enjoyed Wytches, which is about a girl seeing odd things in the woods after her family moves to a new town (and much more), and wanted more after completing it. When I learned of this prequel, I jumped at the chance to read it. It’s about a boy learning to hunt Wytches and how that affects his friendship with another boy. The story was a bore for me. I didn’t like the characters, especially the protagonist’s mom, and wasn’t feeling the dialogue either. I still liked the art, though. Jock’s style certainly works for this story. Despite my feelings here, I’m still looking forward to another volume of Wytches.

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ZeZee’s Most Memorable Reads of 2022

I can’t help it, y’all: I love doing these end-of-year lists and chatting about what I read and reading about what others read too. It’s such fun for me, which is why the book nerd in me is always excited around the end of December and beginning of January.

I already chatted about my favorites of last year, so now I’ll chat about books that didn’t make that list but that I can’t shake from my mind either. These are the books that stuck with me throughout the year, popping up from my memory in the oddest moments to remind me of a bit of the story or of a character or of a piece of exceptional writing or how much I admired an illustration. These are the most memorable books I read in 2022.

The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan (Black Iron Legacy, book 2) ★★★☆☆

I was so ambivalent about this series after completing the first book that I’m surprised it has made this list. This is all thanks to Aquavenatus, who convinced me to continue with the series. The Shadow Saint is the second novel in the Black Iron Legacy fantasy trilogy (which might become a longer series), which began with The Gutter Prayer. The first book focuses on a city called Guerdon where a girl is oddly connected to the city’s bells and has visions whenever they ring. In this fantasy world, the gods are said to be mad and are at war. All other countries are caught up in the war, except Guerdon, which is trying to stay out but profit by selling weapons. But in The Shadow Saint, which picks up some time after the first book, the godswar seems to be heading to Guerdon. We learn more about the gods in this and about other countries, which I was glad for. As with the first book, since reading Shadow Saint, I’ll randomly reflect on the story, remembering how much fun I had reading and how fascinated I was by the mad gods and wondering what caused the madness. I look forward to reading the third book in 2023.

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ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2022

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for blogging, because this is the time of year when everyone puts out “best of” lists and share their reading stats. I’m always eager to read such posts to see what worked or didn’t work for folks and to see what book recommendations I can get or reading event to partake in.

Of course, I like to create such posts as well, so the majority of these early days in January will be filled with reflecting on my reading and blogging progress in the past year, starting with my favorite reads of 2022.

(Also see my most memorable reads of 2022 and my disappointing reads.)

These are the books I loved the most — not necessarily the best written or crafted works I read in the year, although writing and composition of the book do play a part in my consideration of these as favorites. They are not listed in order, but the first is my most favorite book of the year.

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Top 5 Tuesday #81: 2022 Beauties

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 covers of 2022

The following are my favorite covers of the books I read this year.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith
The Worm and the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy: The Fair Lady, the Frost, and the Fiend by Mirka Andolfo (illus.), transl. by Arancia Studio
DCeased: Hope at World’s End by Tom Taylor, illus. by Trevor Hairsine
Every Tree Has a Story by Cécile Benoist, illus. by Charlotte Gastaut

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Top 5 Tuesday #80: The Ones Left Unread

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books I meant to read in 2022

There are several books I meant to read this year, but these are the five that quickly came to mind.

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Top 5 Tuesday #79: History With a Twist

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books set in an alternate universe

So, instead of an alternate universe, I’ve decided to focus on books set in this universe but with a historical twist, I guess. The following are all fantasy books set in this world in the past… or seem to be set in this world in the past.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

The majority of this YA novel takes place shortly after the Civil War — when the dead began to rise. Because of this predicament, Black and Native American teens are trained to protect wealthy White people from zombie attacks. I enjoyed this story, mostly because of the plucky protagonist, but also because of the zombies.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

This novella takes place either during the slave trade or shortly after. It’s about what became of the slaves lost during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade — those who took their lives by jumping overboard the ships. It was an interesting read, but I didn’t like the execution much. I only liked the lore it gives us about what happened to slaves who went into the sea and its exploration of the trauma of slavery and how it affects people generations later.

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Top 5 Tuesday #78: Books Set in the Future

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books set in the future

I read even fewer books that are set in the future than I do those set in present. I think this is because I think most books set in the future are sci-fi novels, and I don’t often read those.

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

This short sci-fi classic is about an alien race visiting earth to help usher the human race toward higher evolution, I guess. The aliens help humans to better themselves and live longer, but the ultimate goal for that betterment is not what people expect. The premise sounds interesting, but I didn’t like the story because it seemed more like an exploration of ideas rather than an entertaining narrative, which is what I wanted.

Boy-1, #1 by H.S. Tak, illus. by Amancay Nahuelpan

I haven’t thought about this comic book since I read it back in 2016. It’s sci-fi set in the future about a dude who’s heir to his father’s genetic-research company that has developed a genome that improves the physical and mental states of chimps. The company wants to progress to testing the genome on humans, but the protagonist, Jadas, isn’t sure if that should happen. I found the story interesting, especially the mystery surrounding Jadas’s father, but not enough for me to continue with it.

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Top 5 Tuesday #77: Books Set in the Present

Top 5 Tuesday — on Wednesday! This is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books set in the present

Contemporary really isn’t my thing. Compared to the other genres, I read it the least. I guess I just prefer to either get stuck in the past or in some fantastical land than having to deal with the present. But somehow I managed to come up with books for this theme.

Virtually Yours by Jeremy Holt, illus. by Elizabeth Beals

It’s a standalone contemporary-romance graphic novel about a guy and girl who connect on a dating app called Virtually Yours.

The Journey by Francesca Sanna (illus.)

It’s a children’s picture book about the refugee crisis. It focuses on a family, a mother and her two children, trying to migrate to a new land because their country is ravaged by war.

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Top 5 Tuesday #76: Books Set in the Past

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah, the Bionic Book Worm, and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic:

Top 5 books set in the past

(How far back in the past is completely up to you.)

A couple months ago, I did a tag thing that made me realize that historical fiction is one of my most read genres, and apparently one of my favorites too, so there were many books I wanted to mention for this post. Instead, I chose to focus on five I haven’t chatted about in a while.

Mother of the Sea by Zetta Elliott

I consider this a short story because of how short it is. It’s a mermaid story that’s set during the Atlantic slave trade, and it’s about a young girl who is abducted from her village and sold into slavery. The majority of the story takes place during her journey across the Atlantic, and it also includes an appearance by a Yoruba deity named Yemoja (or Yemaya in the Americas), which is a water spirit. It was an interesting story, but I wish it was longer.

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

I enjoy reading Cruz’s books. Dominicana mostly takes place in New York City during the mid-1960s. It’s about a young woman named Ana who marries a man twice her age when she was just 15 years old to get the opportunity to immigrant to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic to better support her family. It was an engrossing read.

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