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I read eight books in August and it was a pretty mixed month to be honest. There were several books I loved and a few that I found disappointing.
The Revolutionary and the Rogue // 1.5 stars // e-book
TWs: Off-page death of a partner, violence, homophobia, toxic relationships.
The story follow Perrin, a ‘rogue’, and Henri, a revolutionary, as they become entangled with each other while searching for the leader of a mysterious group The Scarlet Crest. The romance between the two was a little clumsy and felt very unbelievable.
My main issue with this book, though, was the writing. The narrative didn’t flow and the descriptions were really odd in places. The plot was also repetitive and sadly quite dull.
So yeah, I’m sad. I thought I was going to love this, but instead I was pretty disappointed.
Loveless // 3.5 stars // Paperback
TWs: Internalised acephobia, homophobia, panphobia, sex repulsion, toxic friendships and family relationships.
There were some aspects of this book that I really enjoyed and some aspects I thought could have been handled and represented better.
I loved the emphasis on the importance of friendship and platonic love, Shakespeare Soc, the promposal, and Georgia’s eventualy acceptance of her sexuality.
But the pansexual rep in this story painted a pan character as using sex to ‘fill a hole in their life’, which perpetuates a harmful stereotype. A number of pan readers have been hurt by this and I’d encourage you to go and read reviews from own voices pan readers for their perspectives.
Georgia ends up expecting a POC character to educate her and the same character is presented as non-binary but they/them pronouns are never used for them? Being repulsed by sex is also presented THE asexual experience when there are so many other a-spec identities that exist on the spectrum.
On the whole, I enjoyed a lot of the positive and uplifting moments in the novel and there were scenes that really resonated with me. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that a lot of scenes in this book harmed pan and ace readers.
The Cardigans // 4 stars // E-book
TWs: Gore, violence, decapitation, body mutilation, strangulation, mentions of suicidal thoughts.
This has got to be my favourite new series. It follows two queer detectives, Malcolm Khalaji and Seong-Jae Yoon, who are reluctantly partnered up after Seong-Jae transfers to Baltimore PD, and the two have to solve a gruesome series of murders together.
I loved the development of Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s relationship, and since the author has openly stated that there will be a romance between the two later in the series I can’t wait to read on and see how their friendship behinds to change into a romance.
Another thing I love about this book is how much rep there is. Both MCs are POC (Seong-Jae is Korean) and queer, their colleague Sade is non-binary, and the police chief is a queer woman of colour.
The plot is action-packed, water-tight, and had me on the edge of my seat at times, especially in the final few chapters. The story itself gets pretty gory at times, so if any of the above TWs are triggers for you then please take care when picking this one up.
Junk Shop Blues // 4 stars // E-book
TWs: Murder, violence, job threats, discussions of PTSD.
This is the second book in the Criminal Intentions series and I had to pick this up immediately after finishing the first book because I got so into the world and characters that I needed to know how the series was going to progress.
In this story, Malcolm and Seong-Jae have to solve a hotel murder that points to an unfaithful heiress as the culprit.
If anything this was even better than the first book. The writing is just as good as the first book, but I preferred the plot in this story and I loved seeing how the main characters are beginning to develop. I really enjoyed reading more about Malcolm and Seong-Jae’s backstories and I loved seeing how their friendship is progressing.
How to be an Antiracist // 4.5 stars // Audiobook
TWs: Discussions of racism, colourism, xenophobia, and homophobia, cancer, family death.
This is an incredible piece of non-fiction about racism in the US and across the world. Ibram X. Kendi discusses how racism is embedded in politics, education, the police force, neighbourhoods, housing, and so much more.
He describes how to be actively anti-racist in dismantling governmental and societal power structures that have been inherently racist throughout history and continue to be so today.
Every chapter of this book was powerful and insightful. It’s easy to tell that a huge amount of time and research went into this book and the level of detail Kendi goes into when discussing each issue honestly blew me away. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking to educate yourself further on racism and being actively anti-racist, as well as if you want to support the BLM movement.
An American Marriage // 4 stars // Audiobook and paperback
TWs: Racism, infidelity, discussions of cancer, death of a parent, violence, threats of rape.
I buddy read this with Sim and alternated between the audio and the paperback. The book follows Roy and Celestial, a newly married couple, whose marriage is thrown into turmoil when Roy is wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.
This is very much a character-driven story and Tayari Jones does a brilliant job of creating complex main characters with intense emotions and motivation. She shows us how messy and confusing relationships and feelings can get and that love and marriage aren’t always straight forward and easy.
I didn’t really warm to any of the characters except Roy’s father, because they all made poor decisions and were toxic for one another, but at the same time I was captivated by their individual and collective stories.
I wanted to see Celestial’s business succeed and I wanted to see Roy’s conviction overturned. I wanted to see how their feelings for another and other would play out and if Celestial would find the power within herself to decide what she truly wanted. I really liked the ending and the way each character found happiness and peace.
A Darker Shade of Magic (reread) // 5 stars // Paperback
TWs: Violence, mild gore, emotional manipulation.
Yes, that’s right folks. I read A Darker Shade of Magic AGAIN. And it was just as good third time round.
This was our August pick for Schwab Readalong and it was so fun to discuss the book in the liveshow at the end of the month.
Being back in this world with these characters feels like being welcomed home. The plot, magic system, and world-building draw me in every time and I just love these characters so much.
Pizza Girl // 3.5 stars // Audiobook
TWs: Alcoholism, ingesting alcohol while pregnant, suicidal thoughts, discussions of anxiety and mental health problems, stalking, use of a homophobic slur.
This was such a thought-provoking, existential book. The main character, known only as ‘Pizza Girl’ until near the end of the novel, works in a pizza takeaway and becomes fixated on a woman, Jenny, who is one of her customers.
The narrative style is thoughtful, asking big questions about our place in the world and where we find meaning. There are some moments of incredibly dark humour that really caught me by surprise, but they worked well in the audiobook.
Although more of a character-driven novel, the plot turns melancholic and tragic as Pizza Girl’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic and harmful to both herself and those around her. There are some really dark themes in this book, but I found it a really interesting deep commentary on family, social expectations, and small-town American life.
There’s a homophobic slur used early on in the novel that I thought really didn’t need to be there, but aside from that, I enjoyed this book a lot and whizzed through it in a day.
Vicious Spirits // 4 stars // Paperback
TWs: Violence, death of a parent.
This was one of my most anticipated sequels of 2020 and pals, I was NOT disappointed. Where the first book centred on Miyoung and Jihoon, this book focuses on Somin and Junu. Both are secondary characters in Wicked Fox, but they become protagonists in this book and I loved seeing their character development.
Character development was one of the strongest aspects of this novel, as we see Somin grow into her role as a protector, and Junu stop running from his responsibilities as a Dokkaebi and focus on helping his friends. I love all four of these characters, but Junu was probably my favourite in this book. His witty humour and good nature made me root for him and I loved seeing his developing relationship with Somin.
Miyoung and Jihoon are both grieving after the events of the first book and their sadness felt incredibly real in the way it was narrated. (I just wanted to wrap them both up in a big squashy blanket and protect them.) I admired the fact that Kat Cho didn’t shy away from exploring their sadness in order to make this a cheerful, happy book, and I think the story really benefited from their gradual grieving and finding peace.
I really liked how the four friends really came together (despite initial differences) to help each other and save their realm. (In this house, we love a squad team up.)
The plot was fast-paced and exciting and the action scenes were some of my favourites. There were also a few brilliant twists towards the ending that gave the story a real spark.
If I had had the time, I could have read this in one sitting because it was so captivating. As much as I would love another book (or two, or three) in this series, I think this was a fitting end to a great duology.
I also finally got to go to Newcastle in August to see my family for this time in 8 MONTHS. It was wonderful. We celebrated my Grandma’s 80th birthday (at a social distance) and I got to have a good old catch up with my family and a few friends. ❤
I had a huge unhaul in August (60+ books) which was very cathartic and made space for new books. It also pleased my Dad, who’s constantly asking when I’m ‘going to get rid of some of those books’.
We also had one of the biggest storms I’ve seen in years, with two night’s worth of thunder, lightning, and flash flooding.
The storm was so bad on the second night that our local church was struck by lightning and it blew the kitchen lights in our house. I was on my laptop and watching Netflix on the TV, and was PLUNGED INTO DARKNESS.
The church electrics were badly damaged and nobody knew whether the wedding that was planned for a few days’ time would be able to go ahead.
But thankfully our local community managed to raise enough money to get the repairs done and the wedding went ahead.
Which books did you read in August? Did you have any storms?