Hello everyone! I’m back again with a wrap-up and mini reviews of all the books I read in August! I had a good mix this month, and there are quite a few I can’t wait to share with you.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
I read this book as my “I have this on my Scribd app on my phone so I snatched a few moments here and there for a few days” read, mostly because it’s a YA book that SO MANY people have been hyped about in the last year. It is the first in a trilogy that has been reopened and more books are happening. HOWEVER. This was so not for me. Because it is such a ubiquitous series, I know which leg of the love triangle people love a lot, and I DESPISED that character in this first book. The plot was super iffy for me, the end-game love interest is evil, and the first-person writing style was not for me. 2 stars.
The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
This is another ebook read for this month, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I will say that, while I enjoyed this book, there are definitely some issues with trans representation within the story that I, as a cis woman, cannot speak to. Instead, I am going to leave a link to another review that I found during my research that addressed a lot of the issues I had in a much more articulate way than I believe I ever could. I do have an ARC of the second book in the series, and I’m hoping that some of the issues are addressed.
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Audio reread. Fifty stars.
The entire Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire
These novellas are EVERYTHING TO ME. They were audio rereads for me, and the audio version were incredibly magical, especially the second book BECAUSE it was narrated by the author. If you haven’t heard about them, the first book is called Every Heart a Doorway, and it takes place at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. It is a boarding school for children who have gone through a wardrobe, traveled through a looking glass, or found a door to another world, and who have returned to our world for one reason or another. In this series, children who don’t fit into our world often find their way to worlds that better suit them. While they are stand-alones, I truly believe you should read them in publication order (as it currently stand with the 3 books that are out at the time of this post). These books are ethereal and creepy. They have on-page asexual representation, trans rep, fat rep, and undoubtedly so much more as the series goes on. These books are a love letter to anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t fit where they were, and who would do anything to get to where they belong. I’m currently unable to be objective about them, but I HIGHLY recommend giving the first book a go. They are very short, quick reads, but they will grip your heart and never let go. A jillion stars.
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
This was part of my ongoing unofficial buddy read series with Kate where we are trying to get through a lot of our subscription box books, and I LOVED this one. Slow burn, enemies to lovers romance? Found family? Themes of war? Strong father-daughter relationships? VIKINGS?! Sign me directly up. This was a book where I was sad at the end because I knew it was a standalone, but I am also happy at the same time, because it wrapped up just how I would have wanted it to. 4 stars.
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
I wasn’t expecting to like this book, mostly because Chaol turned into a pissbaby, and I didn’t want to read hundreds of pages where I was supposed to care about him. While I still don’t really care that much, I did like a lot of the other characters, and the plot actually gripped me quite a lot. For everyone who has decided to skip on this book and just read Kingdom of Ash when it comes out…you’re gonna be disappointed and probably a little confused. Just read it, y’all. 4 stars.
Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake
This book is a bind-up of two novellas in Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series, which I have a complicated relationship with. The next book comes out TODAY, although my copy is coming from Book Depository, so I’ll have to wait a bit. Kate and I lovingly refer to this series as trapping us/giving us Stockholm Syndrome, because we can’t quit it! As weird as I feel about the series as a whole, I LOVED these two stories. They are INCREDIBLY spoilery for the first book (and maybe also the second), so I wouldn’t recommend reading them until you’ve read Three Dark Crowns and One Dark Throne, as it would ruin some of the suspense that makes the full books so compelling. Obviously I have to be a little vague, but I would definitely recommend reading these stories if you feel as mixed about the series as we do. 4 stars.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
So magical realism and I don’t mix, right? I keep trying and keep trying, but there are more hits and misses. I listened to this story, and there were definitely parts that I enjoyed. I can’t remember who I read from or listened to recently, but they said something to the effect of “I never know what to take as truth and what is a metaphor, and I usually end up feeling like I missed something big.” This was definitely true. I’m not giving this a star rating because it doesn’t seem fair.
ALSO Y’ALL. TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE AND EXTREME ASSAULT. I don’t know how many glowing reviews I’ve read and listened to where people talk about the beauty of this book but FAIL TO MENTION THIS. I was listening to the book while working, and when I got to this part, I felt physically ill and had to turn it off and just sit for a minute. I can normally handle decently hard-hitting topics, but this was SO out of left field. So like…guys. I’m trying to get better at writing trigger warnings for things that don’t bother me but could definitely bother other people (which can be hard sometimes, but that’s why I’m working on it!), but I feel like trigger warnings for rape are pretty straightforward. Let’s do better.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
This month brought to you by audiobooks! I really enjoyed this story, and it really appealed to the part of me that would pick characters over plot. Not a ton happens in the book, but it still made me feel things incredibly deeply. This book deals with depression, suicide, loss, grief, and family deceit. There is on-page bisexuality and our narrator is a lesbian and there is GIRLS LOVING GIRLS WHY ARE THERE NOT TEN MILLION BOOKS ABOUT GIRLS LOVING GIRLS. If you want a sad story that is ultimately hopeful but hard-hitting, this little one is for you. 4 stars.
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller.
I also listened to this one. I’ve been trying to scan through my owned TBR books and find things that I think I can consume via audio so I can try and truck through it, and this seemed like a good candidate. I think this was about a 3 star read for me. It was fine, but it took me a really long time to warm up to the main character. It felt like the set up for a second book, which is fine, but I wanted more action. I did enjoy the push and pull of the romantic plotline, and I am HERE for all-lady pirate crews, so I decided to continue with this duology even though I was lukewarm on the first book.
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
This book is my choice for my traveling book project I’m running on Twitter! The project just started, but once it’s been running for a few months, I will be able to write a more in-depth post about it. I read and annotated this book, which is not something I usually do! I actually really enjoyed it for the most part, but the way the author handled the main character’s sexuality and didn’t jive with me, and it was prolific enough that it knocked the book down to a 3.5 for me. This is a near-future story about a pair of scholars that join a project to travel back in time to recover a lost Jane Austen novel. Take out the weird romance stuff (not the actual romance plot, but the narrator’s odd inner voice), and I would have loved this book. The way it was wrapped up moved me deeply, and I am a sucker for anything Jane Austen AND for light sci-fi, so this could have been a slam dunk for me. In a few months, I’ll be able to give you more insight into what some other people thought about it!
Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
This is another traveling book! This is for a YA edition that sprang from my original project, and I’m excited to be doing both. This book is written as the diary of a lady’s maid who is trapped in a tower with her lady, who is being punished for defying her father. The first third of the book trudged a little bit, but it was entirely necessary. Once the second part of the book commenced, I was hooked. There was angst and loyalty and sisterhood and more angst and forbidden love and secret identities and it was SO MUCH MORE than the first part of the book promised. I loved the mythology, I loved how loyal the main character was, and I just adored it. 4.5 stars!
Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
She’s back! I also listened to this book, and I enjoyed it WAY more than the first installment. There was more action and intrigue and struggle and high-stakes and it was so much more of what I wanted than the first book was. Alossa (who is our main character) really comes into her own, and I adore her for it. I definitely think this book is worth reading the first book for. 4 stars
Shadow of the Fox by Julia Kagawa
This book took me 18 days to read. That is unheard of for me, and I 100% attribute it to the god-awful format of the eARC I was reading. It put me off reading it so much that I wouldn’t pick the book up for DAYS. I finished 10 other books between starting and finishing this one. As such, I feel like my reading experience was colored by how hard it was for me to drag my eyes across the page. I haven’t read anything from Julie Kagawa before, and I was super jazzed to read this one. Japanese mythology is one of my favorite things, and I love foxes! So a main character who is part kitsune is right up my alley. I loved how naive and hopeful she was, and it ended up making for some funny moments. The broody angsty male character was a little bit of an eye-roll, but he definitely cracks his deep dark emo shell a little bit as the book goes on. There is also a character that the duo meets about halfway through the book that I adore. Although this book ends on a cliffhanger (I didn’t know it was a series, ANGST), I’m not sure I’ll be continuing with it yet. Hopefully once people start reading when it comes out, someone will grab me by the shoulders and tell me to read a finished copy.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
She’s at it again! I have been excited about this book for months, and it did not disappoint. It showed up at my door on release day, and I came home from work, put on my comfy clothes, lit a candle, and read it in one go. This book felt like coming home. It felt like I was rereading a childhood favorite. It was spooky and ethereal and atmospheric and SET IN SCOTLAND. It had all the aspects of Schwab’s writing that I absolutely adore in all her other books, but written for a younger audience. I finished it and walked into our office hugging it and waited until my husband acknowledged me, then just whispered “I love it so much.” I adore Cassidy. I adore the way ghosts and the veil work. I love Jacob. I want so many more books in this series.
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
This was another audio read. I listened to My Lady Jane during the last round of Tome Topple, and it was just okay for me. However, I enjoyed this installment much much more, and you can read one without reading the other! This book is a Jane Eyre retelling, but Charlotte Bronte is a character, the story is painted as being real-life events, and there’s basically a fancy Ghostbusters-type organization added in. If you love Jane Eyre, silly ghost stories, or snarky narration, this one is for you!
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
I read this one because Kate was inexplicably compelled to pick it up and loved it! From the very beginning, I had super mega turbo Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender vibes, and that never went away. Our main character shamed her family and her people, and she has been working for years to try and absolve herself of that shame by hunting THE AVATAR. I mean. Dragons. Not the Avatar. There’s forbidden romance, dragons, political intrigue, dragons, powerful stories, dragons, deceit, and also dragons. What more do you want? The sequel, The Caged Queen, comes out later this month! 5 stars.
Warcross by Marie Lu
This book was a love-letter to me as a gamer. I was definitely late the the hype train about this book (the sequel comes out in October), and I’m so happy to have read it. I really enjoyed the audio narrator, I loved the gaming references, I loved the tech world building, and the ending absolutely tore me up. There were a few parts in the middle that had me losing attention at certain parts, but the world-building in the beginning and the amped-up plot toward the end really gripped me. I am so stoked for the sequel! 4 stars.
Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak
Trigger warnings for death, unhealthy coping with grief, and mental illness.
This book was so not what I was expecting. I don’t normally reach for contemporaries, and I had heard it had some magical realism to it, so I was a little worried. However, there was only a tiny bit of magical realism to it, and none of it made me think I was missing a memo. This book is written in alternating chapters of Before and After a traumatizing event, where the Before chapters are spoken directly to a character that we presume has died, and the after is a first-person account of the main character dealing with the aftermath. More and more about the event is revealed to us as the story progresses, which I believe could be frustrating for some people, but I found that it worked. There’s a soft cinnamon roll boy love interest, one of the main characters is gay (and it isn’t an issue or a plot device hell yeah!), and there’s so much love and support from the friends and family of the main characters despite the family conflict that exists. I found this to be another sad-but-hopeful book in the same way We Are Okay was, and I think there’s something to those books that really resonates with something inside me. This one was a 5 star book for me!
21 books for me this month! Many were rereads, many were audio, and more than a few were less-than-stellar, but I still feel really accomplished. Let me know if the comments if you’ve read any of these and what you thought! Thanks guys.