August was basically a come-down month from YALC, but I also went away on a mini-break and read a lot (?!) of books, so it wasn’t all bad.
I managed to read six books this month and one of them was an entire web comic series. I actually changed the books I was going to read during August, because I noticed that several I’d added to my TBR weren’t coming out until later in 2018, or even 2019.
Instead of picking up Girls of Paper and Fire and The Girl King, I switched to Pages and Co. and The Caged Queen (which I finished in early September, so that will be going in next month’s wrap up), because both are being released sooner than the previous two.
Aside from that, I read all the other books I’d planned to (a rarity for me), including:
A Darker Shade of Magic // Re-read // 5 stars // This was my first ever re-read of ADSOM (I know, right?!) and I was nervous going into it because I kept thinking what if I don’t love it as much the second time around?! I needn’t have worried. It was just as heart-stoppingly good the second time around. The characters, world-building, magic system, and plot all live up to a second read, and I appreciated the little objects and moments that become more important later in the series even more now that I’ve read the rest of the books and know where the story is going. And even I didn’t remember some of the smaller plot twists, meaning they shocked me just as much as the first time I read the book.
The Last Children of Tokyo // 2.5 stars // I had high hopes for this book, because I love translated Japanese literature, but I ended up being disappointed. The synopsis was intriguing, offering a future version of Japan, where the old are strong and the young are physically weak – flipping expectations on their heads. But the narrative was very slow-paced, bordering on lethargic, and wandered off on too many existential tangents to be enjoyable. I usually like character-driven books, but even the most introspective novel needs some semblance of plot to hold it together, and this didn’t have that. Much of the author’s discussions of morals and social norms would have been better suited to a book of essays, than a work of fiction.
My Dear Cold-Blooded King // 4 stars // I started this series on a whim and ended up enjoying it so much that I binge read it in three (four?) days. 72 chapters in three (or four???) days. That’a a lot. Set in a mythical version of ancient Asia, the story follows Kihara Mei as she’s invited to join the palace as a servant after saving the life of the young prince. From their she becomes embroiled in political intrigue and ends up falling for the King. Who’s identity is a mystery, at first. This series really drew me in with its gripping plot and elegant art style. I don’t normally like love triangles (they’re overdone), but this one is something of a love quintet (if that’s a thing?) and the relationships between the characters made it intriguing.
Convenience Store Woman // 4 stars // This book was everything I was hoping for in The Last Children of Tokyo and more. It’s not a dystopian story, but instead gives us a slice-of-life view of what day-to-day life is like for Keiko, who works in a convenience store. It’s acerbically witty and sharply critical of society’s expectations of women to ‘settle down and have a family’. As a character, Keiko is very much an outsider, and doesn’t understand why people alienate her for not conforming to relationship norms. It’s possible that she’s asexual and aromantic and there are hints that she may be autistic, but none of these things are ever really confirmed. Her discussions of being ‘one’ with the convenience store act as a criticism of Japan’s work-life balance, where employees (particularly in Tokyo) will often work a 12 hour day.
What If It’s Us // 4 stars // This hotly anticipated novel from Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera was exactly what you’d expect from two gods of contemporary YA. I was sent an ARC of this for the blog tour, and I decided to dive straight in, 1. because I couldn’t wait, and 2. because it was perfect for ARC August. The plot centres on Ben and Arthur, as they meet each other randomly in New York one day then decide to try and re-find each other after feeling a connection. The romance between these two was adorable, the pop culture references were and spot on, and the way Becky and Adam describe complex emotions was invigoratingly honest. B + A are also the masters of squad goals, let it be known. The only thing that stopped this from being a 4.5 or even 5 star read for me was the ending, which diverged from my expectations (and hopes), and was a little anticlimactic. But, honestly, I loved this book. It was such a quick, cute, and heart-warming read.
Pages and Co.: Tilly and the Bookwanderers // 3 stars // I’ve been having a good time with middle grade recently, having read this and City of Ghosts and enjoyed both. I picked up an ARC of this at YALC and decided to read it as part of ARC August. In this story, Tilly discovers she has the ability to ‘wander’ into and out of books and interact with the characters in the story. She meets Alice from Wonderland and Anne from Green Gables, and things get steadily more complicated as Tilly discovers what she can do. Although the plot was simple, there were some exciting action scenes and twists that I didn’t see coming. This book is as meta as they come and discusses the importance of libraries (which I loved) and our motivations behind reading. Tilly’s character seems very much inspired by Matilda, but the book’s villain comes across as too much of a caricature, and a some parts of the plot are never fully explained.
I also announced that I have an article in the new issue of Stay Bookish zine. It’s all about how to help your local library stay open and thrive. If you want to read it you can click this link and go to page 70. (I would love it if you did.)
August was definitely cooler than July, but I tried to make the most of the mild weather.
- I went on a mini-break with my boyfriend and his family down to Dartmouth for a few days. It’s a beautiful coastal town in the south-west of England, and we visited a castle, walked across Dartmoor, and visited Paignton, just up the coast.
- I met up with Jess @ABookAddictsBookshelves for the first time and we went and had coffee in a cafe while it poured with rain outside. It turns out Jess and I have lived in the same town since I moved there last year and we didn’t know about it until a few weeks ago! Such a small world. We’ve got more coffee meet ups planned and will probably end up starting our own two-woman book club in the near future.
- My copy of City of Ghosts arrived. I screamed. The end.
- I finally went to see The Incredibles 2! I loved the first film, and was thrilled when the sequel was announced (many moons ago), and I’ve waited patiently for the day it would finally be released. And it lived up to all my expectations. Pixar managed to retain all the elements that made the first film so enjoyable, capitalising on further character development, and managing to include even more humour, without making it gimmicky or too slapstick. Plus, this film flipped the usual gender roles – in the first film Mr Incredible goes out to be the hero, and Elastigirl must go and save him, but in this film, she gets to be the hero and he must learn to be the stay-home dad before going to save her. It was shrewdly plotted and asks some important questions about family, parenting, and gender+career.
Tldr: I loved it.
- Over August bank holiday, my family and I went to Barmouth in Wales to visit the beach. We’ve never been to before and Barmouth, and spent a lovely afternoon walking across the sand (barefoot), checking out the shops in the town centre, and crossing a pedestrianised railway bridge. We also went for lunch at a cafe that did vegan scones and I could have cried with joy. Aside from the batch my mum made a few months back, I haven’t had a scone in about two years and it. was. delightful. It was warm, buttery, and fluffy, and the jam was spot on. Sorry, I’ve become a scone reviewing blog. That’s who I am now.
What did you read during August? Did you go on holiday or go anywhere special?