Wrap Up – August’ 20

Somehow, amidst a global pandemic and the strange experience of virtual school, I’ve managed to keep up that pesky little reading and book buying habit. Am I surprised? No, not really. I’d probably manage to keep reading during the zombie apocalypse (I mean, if you think about it we’re technically in the middle of an apocalypse, but I digress).

Here are all the books that I read this August!

(all summaries and covers courtesy of goodreads)

1. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

1.5 out of 5 stars

Let’s be real, I wouldn’t have read this if it wasn’t required reading for an online course that I’m doing. There was a time when I would lap up every cliche ridden YA dystopian that saturated the market. I also had a minor case of ‘iM nOt LikE OthEr giRlS’ syndrome, which tells you just about everything you need to know, including why I related to the FMCs. I know what I like, and what I like rarely includes dystopian fiction.

This was just not good. It wasn’t really problematic and I had no real issues with the relationship which is why I thew in that lil’ half star in there. The story was boring, I felt no connection to the characters and I definitely predicted the ending and all the so called ‘plot twist’ early on. Would not recommend.

*****

2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

5 out of 5 stars

This book was just an objectively good book. Yes, it hit me, I felt ~the emotions~ and I connected with it but besides the personal connection that I felt to the book, I can’t help but admire Ng’s prose, characters and tangled plot lines.

I can go on and on about why this is an amazing book, but I don’t think I can effectively articulate why it affected me the way it did. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Celeste Ng, you are the reason I sat up till 2 am thinking about this book. I hope you know that you did that.

This wasn’t a super coherent review but I would suggest this to anyone looking to dip their toe into literary fiction but you’ll probably enjoy it even if you’re well aquatinted with the genre. Read it. Trust the random person on the internet for a book recommendation and read it.

*****

3. Circe by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

3 out of 5 stars

Look, I wanted to love this. I expected to love this. Greek mythology is my thing. I’ve been obsessed with it since fourth grade (of which I owe no small part to Uncle Rick). My love for Greek mythology went past the whole Percy Jackson phase. A feminist retelling of Circe sounded right up my alley.

And in a way, it kind of was. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, the characters and plot were interesting and I think that the feminist adaptation was done quite well. Looking back, I’m searching for a reason that knocked it down to a 3, and it’s hard to find one. Besides from the romance which I found a little rushed, I quite enjoyed it.

I just didn’t connect to the story the way I need to, to rate a book 4 stars. I will definitely be giving Miller’s other book, The Song of Achilles a shot.

*****

4. The Girlfriend by Michelle France

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems. 

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.

2.5 out of 5 stars

The beginning was a hard one star but it got better as it went on and the end was around a three for me. The ‘climax’ scene was super messy and hard to follow. I’m not sure if it was just because I was so done with the book at that point or if genuinely was badly written but I didn’t bother to reread it because I got the gist of what happened. I think my feelings about the book were made perfectly clear when I was completely calm throughout the climax which is supposed to be high emotion or whatever. There were bits in the middle which I enjoyed which boosted this to a 2.5 star rating.

Besides that, this shouldn’t have been advertised as a psychological thriller. It wasn’t. A domestic drama, maybe.

*****

5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price…

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

2 out of 5 stars

I did the thing. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses and I really have nothing to say about it that hasn’t already been said a dozen times over. The villain was cartoony, the main character was fine… I guess, the romance that we saw was ok? I have two big issues with the story.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

The scene with Tamlin and the festival (whatever it was called), made me extremely uncomfortable. I’ve heard a dozen explanations (she should have stayed inside, he wasn’t himself, it wasn’t his fault). Sure, but Sarah J Maas wrote that scene and made it seem romantic. She could have written it differently, and she made a choice to write it like that. Also, it’s pretty common knowledge that Feyra doesn’t end up with Tamlin but with Rhysand, and I knew that going into the book. The scenes in Aramantha’s castle also made me uncomfortable. Again, I’ve heard a dozen excuses but I just wish it had been different.

The book got two stars because I enjoyed it as trashy, fun YA and I finished it quite quickly.

*****

6. Legacy by Shannon Messenger

Sophie Foster wants answers. But after a lifetime of lies, sometimes the truth is the most dangerous discovery. Even the smallest secret comes with terrifying new responsibilities. 

And Sophie’s not the only one with blank spots in her past, or mysteries surrounding her family. She and her friends are part of something much bigger than they imagined—and their roles have already been chosen for them.

Every clue drags them deeper into the conspiracy. Every memory forces them to question everything—especially one another. And the harder they fight, the more the lines blur between friend and enemy.

no rating

I’ve been reading this series for years. First, just to clear it up, I rarely rate middle grade books because I expect a certain level of character depth and writing that middle grade books rarely deliver. That’s not a fault of the book, it’s not supposed to be YA or adult, so I don’t rate it.

With that out of the way, on with the review! I would not recommend this series unless you are a middle grade reader of have been reading it for ages. I’m going to start with that. I enjoyed it, partially because it was completely mindless fun. I literally pulled out my brain, shoved it into a box and then read about special snowflake Sophie’s various adventures and boy drama. I enjoyed, but I’m committed at this point. Let’s be honest, I’ll be reading this series till the time I’m in college.

*****

7. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE


Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds. 

4 out of 5 stars

I could not tell you why this book didn’t get a five star rating. It was amazing, it was gripping, I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t want it to end. It may not have gotten a five but it’s still a favourite. The choice to convey the story in verse form was brilliant and incredibly effective, setting it apart from a lot of contemporary’s with a somewhat similar premise that I’ve read.

Random anecdote but I didn’t realise until after I’d finished the book that I’ve already read a series by this author that I used to love, just a couple of years ago… I really am observant.

8. Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne. 

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power. 

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics. 

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity… 

4 out of 5 stars

Does this objectively deserve 4 stars… ehhhhh, maybe. Probably not. Was I drowning in the Jude and Cardan feels and joyousness and therefore did I give it four stars? Yes. Will I change my rating? No.

This wasn’t as good as The Wicked King and I was a little disappointed because I was expecting it to be as good as The Wicked King. The ending wrapped up a little too quickly, Cardan’s character changed a little to abruptly but Jude Duarte was still amazing. She could stab me and I would thank her but that seems like a common sentiment. (Honestly, people should be more worried about how ready readers are to be stabbed by their favourite characters, but eh. They’re just that amazing.)

I enjoyed but The Wicked King reigns supreme.

*****

9. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak-but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life-and her future-forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

2 out of 5 stars

*SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE THRONE OF GLASS SERIES*

Can I just say, before I properly begin, in Crown of Midnight when they first mentioned Aelin the princess I stopped. I stared. I begged. I pleaded. No, she won’t make her a deadly assassin and a princess and all powerful magic wielder. She won’t do that. Right? Right? Wrong. Sarah J Maas did that.

This book was too long, the plot was too slow. There were no assassin parts which I found the most entertaining part of the series.

*****

10. Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other’s worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City – and the world – as they know it.

1.5 out of 5 stars

The last book was nothing special but this was a let down even from that. Exactly two characters have an actual personality (by actual personality I mean character traits that I can identify, not three dimensional characters. That would be ridiculous) and this book didn’t even have the excuse of a plot. It was just Nova and Adrian angsting over each other for the first half or so of the book. Which is great if you actually care about them as a couple. But if you don’t… well, I can give you a first hand of the incredibly fun experience.

Meyer’s writing style is simplistic, the plot was barely there and the characterisation was lame. I don’t know what could make this good.

*****

11. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall. 

5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely adore the characters in the Darker Shade of Magic series. Every character is well developed, multi dimensional and fascinating to read about. Their character arcs were all unique and well fleshed out. The plot wasn’t as prominent as in the first book but I quite enjoyed the attention payed to development. It was an amazingly enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the last book in the trilogy. Also, the plot twist had me literally screaming.

*****

12. The Boy, the Mole the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

A book of hope for uncertain times.

Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

no rating

Another book I can’t rate! I genuinely don’t know how I could give it a rating. The best way to describe this is just lovely. I wasn’t expecting much when I picked it up. Just a quick, cute read and a break from a heavier book that I was reading. This one definitely surprised me! I would definitely suggest for anyone who wants a quick, wholesome read with some great artwork.

*****

13. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. 

2 out of 5 stars

I knew that this wasn’t going to be as good as Six of Crows. This was Leigh Bardugo’s original trilogy and I mean it was so obvious what era of fantasy books it’s from. A very basic fantasy that I didn’t really care for. Alina is just every FMC from the early 2000s mashed into one. I didn’t like it but I sped through it and there were times when it was mildly enjoyable?

*****

14. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

1 out of 5 stars

Like Circe, I’ve heard far better things about this author’s other book (or series). In this case, Scythe. Unlike Circe, this was not objectively good. Much the opposite in fact.

The premise was completely unbelievable and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief. Again, this was a book for a course I’m doing so I knew going into it that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. Some of the flattest characters I’ve read that have no personality besides the different sides of the argument that Shusterman is trying to introduce. A plot that moved too fast and bland writing were just the cherry on the one star cake. Not the best way to end the month.

*****

Half of the books that I read were under 3 stars but I did really love some of the books that I ended up reading. Long Way Down was probably the biggest surprise for me since it’s been sitting on my shelf for longer than I can remember and I just picked it up on a whim. Anyway, hopefully I can keep up the reading levels in September! If you want to see what I end up reading in September, subscribe!

Let me know if you have any suggestions for the upcoming months. My never ending TBR won’t thank you but I will!

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