Here’s my wrap up for the month of August! This was my last month of summer vacation, so I’ll probably be reading less books in the coming months because of school. This month I read a ton of books that were popular a DECADE ago, and I’m basically just catching up on hyped books this month and September. Note: This particular wrap-up has full reviews for almost every book, but in other wrap-ups I will have standalone reviews for some books I read and will link you to them in the wrap-up. Also, if I don’t have a lot to say about a book I read, it’ll probably get a one-line review.
- Read: 12 books
- Four 5 stars, three 4 stars, three 3 stars, one 3.5 stars, one 2 stars, zero 1 stars
- Favorite book(s) of August: If We Were Villains and Vicious
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
This was a heartbreaking story of abuse, but at the same time was inspiring. The setting of Alaska felt very symbolic to the abusive relationship going on in the plot. It dealt with some heavy topics, but in the end left readers with a sense of hope that things DO get better. Lots of people who are in similar situations to Leni and her mom would benefit from reading this and find it comforting. I liked the discussion on community and how you can find help from even strangers, as long as you talk to someone. I cried at least 3 times while reading this, both sad AND happy tears! Rating: 4 stars
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
There were some things about this book that made it a 4 star read, but some things that made it 2 stars. So, we’re meeting in the middle and giving it 3 stars.
I got through this in a day, so it was pretty enjoyable. There were conversations on feminism and double standards which I LOVED. Both Kallias and Alessandra were morally gray/cruel sometimes, and I’m a sucker for those types. The romance was pretty ok. However, there were things I didn’t like. What happened in the story was VERY different from the Goodreads synopsis; the plotline about Alessandra trying to kill Kallias was barely mentioned or even acted upon. Alessandra’s character was shown to be cunning and selfish, which I got from the beginning, but it all disappeared for the rest of the book. There was a pretty interesting plot twist at the end, but was so unbelievable and honestly dumb. Lastly, the pacing became very fast in the last 5 chapters of the book, and I felt it was too rushed.
Overall, this book is still fun to read if you don’t think about it too critically! Rating: 3 stars
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I enjoyed this book SO SO much, which was surprising because I don’t care about rock n roll at all. (I would recommend listening to the audiobook, which has a whole cast of characters narrating different parts). The interview style that this book is written in was executed so seamlessly. It was so fun to read about the problems of LA rockstars, and the main characters, Daisy and Billy, were well fleshed out and flawed. I became so attached to them. I usually despise love triangles, but the one between Daisy, Billy, and Camilla was so complex and well-written. The main thing I loved about this was definitely the romance between Billy and Daisy. It had many tropes I like: forbidden love, enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity. I would recommend this even if you wouldn’t normally connect with music-based stories! Rating: 5 stars
Normal People by Sally Rooney
This was ok. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the relationship or the characters very much. I found myself annoyed at how immature Connell and Marianne were being. They were SO bad at communicating and it made me so mad. Another thing that annoyed me was there were no quotation marks for the dialogue, so if that bothers you too, maybe don’t pick this up. However, I did find it sweet that Marianne and Connell always found their way back to each other over the years, and the mental health representation for men/boys towards the end was nice. If you enjoy a slice of life contemporary with minimal plot, you might like this book. Rating: 3 stars
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
This book was a mix between Pirates of the Caribbean and the Descendants movie, so if you’re into pirate-y shenanigans, go for it! I’m not, so this book didn’t do much for me. The plot was very confusing and all over the place. I hoped for a good romance, though, and I was disappointed. First of all, Elian and Lira meet 25% into the book, which is way too long in my opinion. Their relationship was so unbelievable and underdeveloped. They shared almost no *deep* scenes to convince the readers they cared about each other, and there was no chemistry. And this is coming from ME, a person who falls in love with every YA book couple! Sadly, I cared more about the side characters’ relationship more than the main couple. I would recommend not to pick this book up if you want lots of well-written romance. Rating: 3 stars
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
If I had to describe this book in one line, it would be this: Simon has the worst week of his life.
I gave City of Bones 4 stars because of the fact that the first quarter of the book was super info-dumpy, but this book was very fast-paced and never boring!
The plot had a ton of moving parts, but they came together in a way that was easy to understand and wasn’t overwhelming. Also, there must be a secret sauce in circa-2005 YA fantasy books, because all of them have top-tier humor. Jace’s sarcasm was rivaled only by Simon’s and I SCREAMED at all the witty one-liners in this. Many people will be annoyed by Jace’s self-destructive behavior throughout this book, but I sympathize with him given the revelations at the end of the first book.
I’m not going to dive into the Simon-Jace-Clary love triangle, because it makes me *uncomfy*, but I will say I liked Clary’s internal struggle of who to pick. As always, Cassie Clare’s finales are so intense and interesting. Such a funny and exciting read, I’ll definitely be finishing out the series! Rating: 5 stars
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Sadly, this thriller was a miss for me. I have read Foley’s other book, The Hunting Party, and gave it 3 stars. This book shared many issues with The Hunting Party.
But first, the good things: I loved the atmosphere. The foggy, dangerous, secluded island made for a creepy and perfect setting for this murder mystery. However, I could not find myself liking ANY of the large cast of characters. I’m a character-driven gal, so even in thrillers I need the characters to be likable or at least fun to hate. So, I was just aggravated and disgusted at the characters’ actions most of the time. There was frat-boy-esque hazing, cheating, and overall 30-year-olds acting like high schoolers. I figured out all the plot twists easily and who the killer was, just as I did in the Hunting Party. I just don’t think Lucy Foley’s books are for me 🙁 Rating: 2 stars
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
I realized my heart and soul were not made of ice after I read this. It gave me ALL the feels. The dark academia and boarding school vibes were everything. This book was just a group of pretentious theater nerds quoting Shakespeare and trying to cover up a murder, and I LOVED it.
One of the best things about this story was that as the murder happened and the group descended into chaos, my emotion’s mirrored theirs. I was feeling so anxious for the last 100 pages as everything started falling apart, and I’ve never felt so utterly invested in a book. There was a VERY slow-burn romance in this as well, and while it was subtle I adored it. The ending broke my heart and I will never be the same. I sobbed a TON. If you want a murder mystery that focuses on the characters and their dynamics much more than the actual murder, this is for you! (Also, I felt like such a *thespian* reading all the Shakespeare lines, and I guarantee you will too!) Rating: 5 stars
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
This was such a hilarious and sweet romance! Check out my full review here. Rating: 3.5 stars
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
When the Percy Jackson series was at its peak, I was in the right age group and all my friends were reading it. But, I thought I was too “quirky” to read it at the time. Here I am now, finally starting the series 15 years late! Better late than never, right? This was a solid first book for the series, and I enjoyed it. I liked the whole cross-country-road-trip-adventure plot, and the characters were simple (but I think we’ll see them get more complex in later books). It wasn’t too impressive, but I can tell Uncle Rick has a lot of amazing things in store for the rest of the books! Rating: 4 stars
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Once again, another super popular book that I read super late. I would say it ALMOST lived up to the hype. I usually don’t like domestic thrillers, but this one was very good! The premise wasn’t very creative or special, but the way Gillian Flynn crafted the characters of Amy and Nick was so well done. They were both unreliable narrators and EXTREMELY morally gray, which made it difficult to figure out who was lying. I was pretty disappointed by the plot twist, though, because I was able to guess it early on in the story. Nevertheless, Flynn made up for it with an ambiguous ending which I personally loved. Rating: 4 stars
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I ended my month with a fantastic and gripping 5-star read! I don’t like superhero movies/shows, but for some reason I loved this book that revolved around superheroes and villains.
There are two clear sides to the conflict and it is up to the reader to decide which side to root for. I liked that a backstory was made for Eli and Victor, because I felt much more connected to them and their relationship. I was always rooting for Victor, but I still felt attached to Eli’s side. There was so much excitement and anticipation because all the events in the book were building up to one moment in time, when Eli and Victor finally meet after a decade. Surprisingly, there were many different timelines occurring, but it wasn’t confusing at all. I was worried there would be too many fight scenes, but there was just the right amount of action. There was even a found family trope in this book, and I loved the father-daughter relationship that formed between Victor and Sydney!
This was such an interesting take on heroes and villains, and easily the best fantasy book I’ve read all year! I can’t wait to read more of Schwab’s work. Rating: 5 stars