Thursday Thoughts: Reviews revisited (July – December 2020)

I've noticed I often say in reviews how great a book is...and then totally forget it exists a few months later. So I've decided to start a series of posts within my Thursday Thoughts series called Reviews Revisited, in which I will go back through the books I've read a while ago and see if they are as memorable now as I thought they would be then!

A quick note: I'm covering 6 months of books at a time, but these are NOT the books I've reviewed in the past 6 months. Rather, these are the books I reviewed starting exactly one year ago, in July 2020, and ending in December 2020. (Partially, that's so I could cram in more ranting about The Magic Fish, and partially, it's so the most recent books wouldn't have literally been from last week—those will probably be pretty memorable!) The books from January to June 2021 will (if I remember) be featured in a post like this in January 2022. With all that said, let's dive right in!

July 2020

When Stars Are Scattered

I don't know that I actively think about this book that much, but it has definitely stuck with me! I remember the sense of desolation from the refugee camp, Dadaab, and I have a pretty solid sense of Omar and Hassan as characters still. I remember some of the childhood play and attempts to learn in school, and I remember being horrified by CERTAIN THINGS that happen to Maryam. So this gorgeous, painful book has been pretty memorable overall!
Parachutes

Again, this isn't one I actively think about much, and it was so chock-full of details that it's hard to retain most of them. But I definitely remember some of the more impactful (i.e. horrifying) scenes, both involving Claire and Dani, and I remember some of the wonderful scenes toward the end involving Dani's debate competition. I also remember that honestly, I didn't really like Zach. At all. In terms of sticking with me, this isn't too bad overall!
Zenobia July

This book did not stay with me as much as I would have hoped—actively thinking about it now, I can recall a surprising amount of it, including Zenobia and her aunts and Arli and the hacking and the makeup scene and all sorts of stuff. But I haven't thought about it much since I read it, with the exception that Zenobia still comes to mind as an "actual" individual who would be affected by some of the anti-transgender legislation going on now. I think most people find it difficult to care about prejudice if they don't know individuals who it affects, but between Zenobia and actual people I know in real life, I can safely say that I am INFURIATED by the aforementioned legislation.


I still remember this book, because I basically eviscerated it in my review, and who could forget that? That's all I'll say here—take a look at the review if you want to.









August 2020

I didn't love this book when I read it, and I haven't thought about it much at all. I remember some bits of the plot, like Mallie and the horses and the coal mines and the canaries with a name I cannot remember anymore. But I don't remember much of a moral message or anything—it wasn't terribly impactful in the first place, unfortunately.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

I remember SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD from this book, goodness gracious! I recall Lucy as being a pretty fun and adventurous "protagonist" for this memoir, and there's a few chapters from this book that were so entertaining that I still think of them from time to time. But no big moral message or life-changing info stands out to me.
The Key to Extraordinary

I don't often think about this book, but I do look at it on my shelf and wish I could re-read it again, and I think that's pretty good! The food, the dancing, the flowers, the friendships and family, the ghosts, the emphasis on finding joy even amidst grief—it's pretty hard to forget a book that makes you feel as happy as this one does!
Faith: Taking Flight

I wouldn't say this book had any messages I hadn't seen in Julie Murphy's other spectacular books before, but I will say that I know it was definitely a fun read, and with all of the intense action and shocking revelations toward the end, I know I definitely want to pick up a copy of the sequel and fly (get it? because she can fly?) back into this world!
On the Horizon

I almost never think about this book, honestly—I remember it being vaguely impactful at the time, but I just don't think the writing was good enough that it really stayed with me.








September 2020

I remember that I wish I could remember more of this book! I remember totally loving it, and I recall things like Freddy's emails taking the place of narration, or the stuffed animals, or the titular toxic relationship being very nuanced, or the immense amount of LGBTQ+ representation and culture packed in here. If I had any time at all (which I don't, unfortunately), I would love to pick this back up for a re-read!
Displacement

One of the things I remember most about this book was the art style—between the choice of colors and the clean lines, I was quite smitten with it! (Though it's possible that I saw some sample pages a few months ago, and that's also why the art style feels memorable.) I remember the ending moral being a bit too similar to that of White Bird, but I recall the story generally being well-executed and quite impactful!
Bloom

I was frustrated with aspects of this book when I read it, but the romance in this graphic novel is still surprisingly memorable today! Ari and Hector had a lot of chemistry in this story—they brought out good things in each other— and even though I found Ari somewhat aggravating at times, I did like both characters individually. I will say that there were things I wish had been done differently, but I'll still pick up a copy of this book's sequel when it comes out in a few years!
All Together Now

I remember this being barely memorable when I read it then (to the point where I don't recommend it at all), and it's barely memorable now, except for the awesome mauve-monochrome art. I remember loving the first book in the series, All Summer Long, so hopefully the upcoming third book is a fitting conclusion!







October 2020

It is possibly alarming that the thing that comes to mind from this book is the Mario Kart scene, and not the super-deep and super-nuanced explorations of countless real-world topics, but apparently that's just where I'm at as a person right now. I do recall some powerful depictions of what it is like to struggle financially (such as the pain and indignity of having to visit a food bank), and I recall a general sense of Bri being in a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose-lose-... situation with the song she released—they really did find every possible way to make her life harder.
The Deep & Dark Blue

I have actively thought about this book recently, for a few reasons. One is that it's the only book I can recall reading with a transgender protagonist besides Zenobia July—that's alarming, so I need to get some books with transgender characters read ASAP! (I do have copies of Pet and May the Best Man Win, so I look forward to reading those soon.) I recall liking the protagonists of this book, Grayce and Hawke, and I recall the magic and intrigue being quite impressive! But I do wish that the story's gender roles weren't so entrenched—part of what made Grayce's transition important is that it let her fit into the Communion of Blue, which was for women only, and I found it a little archaic to have important groups in a story for only one of countless gender identities. But I will say that it made Grayce's journey impactful overall!

This book is SO MEMORABLE, OH MY GOODNESS. I designated this book as my second-favorite of all time immediately after re-reading it, and it called to me so much that I re-read it this past February during a time of crisis in my life—I needed something that I was guaranteed to love! It's possibly just because I re-read it, but I remember so much of what I love about this book—the gorgeous art, the incredible representation, the fairy tales, the way that the fairy tales intertwine with and mirror the main plotlines, etc. If you take just one thing away from this post, it should be to READ The Magic Fish!!!

This was largely un-memorable, I suspect because of its strange format of individual comics that Stevenson made throughout their life—it wasn't a narrative so much as a scrapbook, in a way. But this book did affect me profoundly in one way—Stevenson is a creator I have followed to some extent before this book (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, anyone?), but I never realized that their prolific bibliography/filmography at such a young age was in part due to their own mental health condition (which seemed to involve some kind of manic episodes). So now I definitely wonder, when I see a young and prolific creator of any kind of media, if their mental health might be somewhat involved in how they've managed to write/sing/draw/etc. so much.

I didn't love this book when I read it, and I haven't thought about it much at all—I'd rather spend my time going on and on and on and on and on about Rebecca Stead's many other great books, like Goodbye Stranger!








November 2020

I thought this book was good when I read it, but I didn't expect it would be super-memorable, and it wasn't, honestly. So there!
This One Summer

This wasn't quite as memorable as I thought it would be, but I remember it talking about some mature topics, and I remember it generally being a very impactful read—I just can't totally remember why anymore! I do remember the art, which was gorgeous.
Becoming RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice

This graphic novel wasn't super-memorable, but I am very glad to have read it—when Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, I think it was a valuable experience to have learned more about her through this graphic novel. And I was taking a class in government at the time too and actually reading Supreme Court opinions by RBG, so I think all of these things combined gave me a better understanding of RBG and the Supreme Court. Not bad!
The Girl Who Drank the Moon

This is another book that I remember just enough that I wish I could remember more of it! I remember the delightful cast of characters—Xan, Luna, Glerk, Fyrian, Antain, the madwoman—the gorgeous writing, the excellent plotting, and the powerful message about acknowledging your feelings. I remember there being so much packed into this Newbery winner that I could re-read it and still be surprised.






December 2020

This book had some problematic parts with regards to race, and I definitely remember that. I remember enjoying the story overall, but you can't make much of an excuse for the kinds of problems in here. I sold my copy to the used bookstore, so I don't believe I'll ever remember much else!

I remember being surprised by how much I totally loved this graphic novel! Cici was such a delightful protagonist, there was so much delicious food packed in here, the somewhat-antagonistic Miranda was surprisingly complex, and there was some real nuance in here about being an immigrant, relating to multiple cultures, and having experiences and values different from those of any one culture. And I remember it was all in a kid-accessible package—with great art too! This was a great read.
Pashmina

I remember bits and pieces of this graphic novel, but I didn't like it then, so it doesn't really matter, honestly. But I pre-ordered a copy of Nidhi Chanani's next graphic novel, Jukebox, and I am looking forward to giving her work another shot!

This book was actually quite memorable—I was flipping through it recently and recalling all of the short stories in it that I loved! A few weeks ago, I was trying to read another anthology of short stories by different authors, and I had to give up on it because only one of the seven I had read so far were any good. So I was thinking about this book then and recalling just how lucky I was to stumble upon an anthology where virtually every story was a good one, and at least six or seven were utterly great!



And that's all I have! (And thank goodness—it took so long just to add the book covers in order, and make them small, and justify them to the left, and add the book titles in bold and italics, and add the links, and then actually write the post!) I hope this post helped you gauge which of my past recommended books are ones you may want to buy, and I'm glad to have given some of these books one more moment in the spotlight!

Any books you read a while back that were quite memorable—or not at all? If you can even remember their titles, let me know in the comments below! And stay tuned for Monday's review and the next Thursday Thoughts post!

Comments

  1. I have a lot of trouble remembering the books I've read. I read so many, and I am very careful choosing them, so I like almost all of them, but only a very few stick with me. I loved (and remember!) The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise best of all I've read in the last year. Thanks for the post.

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    1. That makes a lot of sense—there's only so many books that can stick with you, so the more you read, the more just drop out of memory after a while! I'm glad you like almost all the books you choose—I will have stretches where I love the books I have picked, and then I will have stretches where I just choose bad book after bad book, unfortunately. I had put The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise on my list when you reviewed it, but I added a bunch of asterisks next to it now that you mention it again! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  2. I think this is a great idea! I'm new to blogging, so I can't say I've revisited my previous blog posts yet, but over the years, I have made a list of my top recent reads for every 25 or so books, which is 2-3 times a year usually. I use Goodreads to help make this list, and sometimes I'm at a loss for how I rated some books as high or as low as I did, when I look back. There are some books that seem to grow on you, but mostly I forget stuff! Haha. As you say, I think the more you read the more drop out of memory. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Thank you so much! And that's a great idea to make a list of top reads on Goodreads! I also go back through some of my old reviews and wonder why exactly I gave books such a high rating! And yes, some books grow on me over time, but many do the exact opposite! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  3. The two I've read on this list are Displacement and When Stars are Scattered. Both have stuck with me in a good way, but I think about Stars more.

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    1. That makes sense—I think When Stars Are Scattered was more powerful than Displacement, but it's also more painful (though not by much!), so I tend to gravitate toward Displacement a bit too. Both are excellent, though! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  4. This is a great idea because I agree - it takes some time and distance to really figure out which books are impactful and stay with you (though some outstanding ones you know right away!).

    Let's see, I read and enjoyed Displacement (a topic more people need to know about!), Relish (Love all of Lucy's books), All Together Now (agree - not memorable), On the Come Up (powerful, as all of her novels are!), and This One Summer, which really blew me away. Oh, and Pashmina, which I almost forgot to mention because it didn't have much impact on me.

    I would really like to read Over the Moon - I think it is SO important for people to understand the plight of refugees in our world today. And, after reading your blog these past 6 months, I'm getting the idea that I should read The Magic Fish!!

    Great sum-up.

    Sue

    2021 Big Book Summer Challenge

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you've read quite a few of these, and it sounds like you have very similar opinions to me! Displacement, On the Come Up, and This One Summer were all great books—I'm somewhat surprised that This One Summer didn't stick with me, because I do recall it being very good! All Together Now was definitely a little lacking, and Pashmina is odd, because tons of people love it, and I really didn't like it much at all! My copy of Jukebox showed up today, so hopefully it's better than Pashmina. And you should definitely read The Magic Fish—I'm trying not to make my blog into a giant The Magic Fish fan site, but especially for people who already enjoy MG/YA graphic novels, it is a must-read! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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  5. I think the main reason why blogging is so important to me is because it provides me with a repository of information on previous books I read and enjoyed and had so many feelings about - I really love the concept behind Thursday Thoughts as it prompts you to revisit your reading life. We used to do that previously, whenever we do a round-up of all books reviewed for our quarterly reading themes - but since it can be quite painstaking and laborious, we opted for a round-up at the end of the year instead. All the best for your Thursday Thoughts, and looking forward to reading more of your notes on books (I have looked up The Magic Fish now, and hopefully I find it soon). :)

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    1. I totally get what you mean—I sometimes think of my blog as my own personal bookshelf, complete with my notes about what I liked and didn't like about each book! And I'm excited to revisit some of my other reviews in 6 months or so—I can definitely imagine that it gets a little time-consuming, but hopefully every 6 months shouldn't be too bad. And I hope you get a chance to read The Magic Fish! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

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