Challenge Check-In July

Challenge Check-In – July 2023

Welcome to Challenge Check-In for July 2023 which is kind of like a Monthly Wrap Up, but not quite. Here I focus on my progress regarding my reading goals (check out THIS post), and also offer 5-5 recommendations for 2 The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts each month. It’s never too late to join if it catches your interest!

After a couple of months of craziness, July turned out to be an utterly boring month. In hindsight, though, I probably needed that. I mostly focused on resting, healing, reading, watching TV, and working on different DIY projects. I also started planning out the rest of the year, and decided to make my UK stay a couple of days longer this coming October. I’d like to give myself the chance to see a bit more of Bristol before I meet up with all my lovely bookish friends on the weekend. It’s been a while since I had a chance to stay somewhere for more than 2-3 days, so this will be a nice change. And one I’m looking forward to, especially since my summer plans went to the bin. I already purchased my plane tickets, so no backsies!

July also brought some cool mail. The last book from my order in May arrived on the same day I was released from the hospital. I absolutely adored The Square of Sevens, so I urge you to pick it up! Also, a good friend of mine sent me a care package with some amazing panda stuff. I turned the laptop holder/bag into a shoulder bag with an amazing purple strap and now I’m happy. And it’s hard to see, but every die has a tiny panda in it!

As for other blog stuff, I had an interview with Christian Cameron, and Team Asylum got into the SPFBO 9 bloodletting in earnest with the Elimination Round. Our cutting posts: Timy, Jen, Liis, Bjorn. We continued spotlighting our SPFBO 9 authors and in July we had a tale from the Asylum from Aisha Urooj, we got Peter Mooren stuck in the pages, Philinna Wood tried her language skills in What the Hungarian?!, and we chatted with John Champaign.

So, after important life updates, here comes my Challenge Check-In for July 2023.

The Month in Reading

July 2023

For July 2023 my handy spreadsheet at the start of the month had 3 ebooks planned. As my health improved, I slowly got back into the swing. Currently, the July portion of my spreadsheet has 8 books listed. 1 of those was from my SPFBO slush pile, 2 I’m currently reading, 1 was ARC, 1 was a beta read, and the rest were from my backlog. 2 of those were on the list I made at the start of the year, though.

Before I get to what I read this month, here are some reviews for books I finished in June, but reviewed in July:

The Wise Men of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater

TitleHalf a Soul
Author: Olivia Atwater
Series: Regency Faerie Tales #1
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: 5👑

I’m kicking myself for letting this book sit on my TBR pile for years. I adored the hell out of Half a Soul, even if I wasn’t a big fan of the narrator. I should have a review sometime soon.

The Only Purple House in Town by Ann Aguirre

Title: The Only Purple House in Town
Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Fix-it Witches #4 / standalone
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: July 11, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: 2.5👑

I was supposed to read this book sooner as it was released earlier this month, but life got in the way. It’s a super fast read, and it does work as a standalone, but I had some issues with it, especially the romance. It was just… ugh. Full review coming soon.

Her Majesty's Royal Coven by Juno Dawson

Title: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven
Author: Juno Dawson
Series: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven #1
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Format: paperback
Status: Currently Reading

The pinkest object I own or will ever own. I’m about 160 pages into it at the moment and I’m definitely intrigued. I’m not sure I like most of the characters though, but I have 300 more pages to go, so who knows what happens?

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Title: Once Upon a River
Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: standalone
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Format: audiobook
Status: Currently Reading

I only just started so I’m only 4 chapters into it, but man I’m hooked. Can’t wait to read more.

Womble's TBR Reduction Challenge

The prompt for July was “holidays are coming!”. We were required to read a book by the author who lives the furthest from us on our TBR. I skipped this challenge again as I was catching up with reading and other stuff after my hospital spell.

The Sound of Madness

In July I decided to add 1 book to The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge card. Here it is:

Here is what my card looks like right now:

The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge progress for July 2023

And as promised, I’m going to give you some recs for the next two prompts on this lovely card.

Middle Fingers

This prompt could work for a book with a character that has a “fuck this shit” attitude. And sometimes there are points in a story where someone goes “fuck it, let’s do it” when they are just tired of overthinking things. It can also be for a book you pick up on a whim, other obligations be damned. We all deserve some undisturbed reading time with a great book. Or ignore our more pressing reads for a pleasure read…

The Wise Men of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Title: The Wise Men of Gotham
Author: Craig Schaefer
Series: The Midnight Scoop #2
Publisher: Demimonde Books
Release Date: May 28, 2023

There is a moment in The Wise Men of Gotham, where Nell and Tyler decide to go after the big story, even though they are only supposed to do puff pieces anymore. There are also a few “fuck it, let’s do it” moments as well.

A Numbers Game by RJ Dark

Title: A Numbers Game
Author: RJ Dark
Series: Mal and Jackie #1
Publisher: Wavesback
Release Date: June 4, 2021

The first book in the bonkers Mal and Jackie series, where we get introduced to these two. Jackie definitely has a “let’s fucking do it” attitude while Mal is the “fuck this shit” type of guy. And so, it’s super amusing to read about their interactions.

A Girl Made of Air

Title: A Girl Made of Air
Author: Nydia Hetherington
Series: standalone
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: September 3, 2020

There is a part in this book, where the MC lets herself talked into getting a mermaid tattoo and a one-night stand which ends up being a relationship.

Smoke and Stone by Michael R. Fletcher

Title: Smoke and Stone
Author: Michael R. Fletcher
Series: City of Sacrifice #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 1, 2019

There is a lot of “fuck this shit” vibe going on in this one. Especially when it comes to Nuru and her friends. At one point they decide to break into the Artists Ring to steal some tools. Plus, they belong to the lowest ring, so they are quite fed up with everyone looking down on them.

Card Mage: Slumdog Deckbuilder by Benedict Patrick

Title: Card Mage: Slumdog Deckbuilder
Author: Benedict Patrick
Series: Card Mage #1
Publisher: self-published
Release Date: August 1, 2023

Hick doesn’t have an easy life, and the only chance for him to get out of the Slum is to become a famous card player. Even if his dad forbids him to play, Hick still decides to enter the illegal card games to build his name and his deck. If I didn’t read it already, I would have thrown everything away the moment it released. Just saying.



Well, this is not one of the more flexible prompts, so pick up a book with the blue color being prominent on the cover or the word “blue” in the title. A book mostly set on/in the water can also work.

Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore

Title: Coyote Blue
Author: Christopher Moore
Series: standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: March 18, 2008

Christopher Moore’s kind of humor is not for everyone, I don’t like all of his book myself. I think it took me a couple of tries to get into this one (I have a copy in Hungarian), but there is one specific scene that gave a laughing fit in public… LOL. Anyway, if you want to try something else, it can be a good pick. It has a few editions, I (unfortunately) picked one that doesn’t have a blue color, but the title still counts.

Los Nefilim by T. Frohock

Title: Los Nefilim
Author: T. Frohock
Series: Los Nefilim #0.1-0.3
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: April 26, 2016

If you want to start on T. Frohock’s amazing Los Nefilim series, then you should start here. It’s the collection of 3 novellas, giving us an insight into Diago and Miquel’s lives.

Four Season in Japan by Nick Bradley

Title: Four Seasons in Japan
Author: Nick Bradley
Series: standalone
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: June 22, 2023

I read this very recently and liked it a lot. It’s set in rural Japan, next to the sea, and tells the story of Ayako and her grandson Kyo, as well as a translator, Flo. It’s a nice slice-of-life kind of story I enjoyed.

Priest of Gallows by Peter McLean

Title: Priest of Gallows
Author: Peter McLean
Series: War for the Rose Throne #3
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Release Date: May 27, 2021

It’s not much of a secret, that I freaking love Pete McLean’s series. I can’t recommend it enough, so if you haven’t started on it yet, what the hell are you waiting for?!

A Fool's Hope by Mike Shackle

Title: A Fool’s Hope
Author: Mike Shackle
Series: The Last War #2
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: December 3, 2020

Another series I enjoyed immensely. Epic grimdark fantasy at its best. It’s also a finished trilogy, so you really don’t have any excuses not to pick it up.

And that concludes my Challenge Check-In for July 2023. On the whole, it wasn’t a bad reading month, considering how it started. Let me know how you progressed with either my challenges or the ones you set for yourself!

If you don’t want to miss any of our posts, please consider signing up to our monthly newsletter or follow us on social media:

You can also support us on Ko-fi so we can keep maintaining the Asylum!