I’m a little late with my August wrap-up, since I was away for Labor Day weekend (I went to Montreal! It was really fun) and didn’t have a chance to finish it before I left or while I was gone, but here it finally is!
August was a prolific reading month, but I wasn’t able to find any new 5-star reads, which I’d have really liked to do. It was a really fun reading month overall, though; I’m especially proud that I finished all three of the books from the Make Me Read It challenge from Litsy. I finished some fun, summery reads, as well as some really interesting ones. I also participated in another round of Bout of Books, one of my favorite readathons.
Here are my August stats:
Total books read: 10
Bellwether by Connie Willis (4 stars) – Bellwether is about a sociologist/statistician who studies the history and origins of fads, from short hair in the ’20s to Barbie to the current “it” colors, and finds herself on the path toward a major scientific discovery alongside a chaos theorist, while being forced to deal with repeated and hilarious bureaucratic and administrative hurtles. It’s fast-paced and funny, written and set in the early 90s, and is my fourth Connie Willis book. I absolutely love her chaotic writing style and sense of humor; reading Connie Willis brings me a lot of joy, and I’d highly recommend this one if you’re looking for an entertaining science-related read.
The Answers by Catherine Lacey (4 stars) – I ended up really enjoying this deeply weird novel; my philosophy on books is generally the weirder the better. The Answers follows Mary, a woman suffering from an undiagnosed illness who finds the only way to alleviate her symptoms is through an expensive form of alternative medicine called PAKing. To pay for her treatments, Mary joins an experiment that a famous actor is putting together to attempt to find the secret to an ideal relationship. Women are given roles and scripts such as the Anger Girlfriend and Emotional Girlfriend (Mary’s role) while a team of researchers analyze their interactions. Things actually get even weirder from there! Overall I found this to be very unique and well-written; I’d recommend it to fans of literary fiction with a weird/speculative twist. I’ll be interested to read more from Lacey in the future.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (4 stars) – The Mothers is centered around a black church community in Southern California, and we follow three of its young members, Luke, Nadia, and Aubrey, in alternating perspectives, interspersed by the voices of a chorus of “the mothers,” a group of elderly women whose lives now revolve around the church. Through these voices, we learn the intersecting lives and stories of Luke, a former college football recruit sidelined by an injury; Nadia, an intelligent, ambitious young woman reeling from the recent suicide of her mother; and her best friend Aubrey, who has an equally tragic family past and who copes by finding her place in the church. When the story opens, Nadia is pregnant at seventeen with Luke’s child, and the story follows her decision and their lives through the next several years. The Mothers is a relatively short novel, and it’s fast and almost addicting to read; it’s the type of book that could be read in a single sitting. Despite its fast pace, it’s really beautifully written, and each character is fully realized and easy to picture from the very beginning. It’s also a story very rooted in a sense of place, and the Southern California setting is one of the novel’s constants, even when its characters move to other places. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an emotional literary fiction read that will hold you and not let you go until the end.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (4 stars) – Honestly, this book just made me really, really happy. I’m not a big contemporary romance reader; I basically didn’t read any contemporary romance at all until a few months ago, and I was skeptical about this book for that reason. After a few chapters, I was hooked, and started to absolutely love this hate-to-love romance. I’d absolutely recommend this to fans of The Kiss Quotient; I think it has a similar vibe even if the plots aren’t at all alike, and also to anyone looking for a great contemporary romance.
Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai (4 stars) – This was the third and unfortunately the final book in Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first two. This contemporary saga focused on warring families wrapped up nicely in Hurts to Love You, which focused the romance between Gabe, a tattoo parlor owner and the son of one of the families’ housekeeper growing up, and Eve, who grew up wealthy but is now trying to make her own way.
Circe by Madeline Miller (3.5 stars) – I definitely wouldn’t say that I disliked Circe, nor do I think it was a bad book in any way, but I also didn’t think that it lived up to the hype. I should start by saying that I’ve been a voracious reader of Greek mythology from a very young age, like a lot of bookish people. Because of that, I’ve read a lot of books of mythology and a lot of retellings, and although I absolutely understand Miller’s intent to put a feminist slant on Circe’s story, I just didn’t feel that I gained any new information or insights from this book. It was well-written and incorporated many different mythical “heroes” and deities; I was just expecting more from all of the rave reviews and 5-star ratings I’ve been seeing. By the end of the book, I still felt like Circe’s character development wasn’t fully realized, and that was disappointing, since feminist retellings are one of my favorite types of books. So many people loved this one, though, and so I still think that many people would enjoy reading Circe, but for me it was a bit disappointing.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (3 stars) – I have mixed feelings. The Hazel Wood follows Alice, a 17-year-old girl with anger issues who, along with her mother, has been constantly on the move around the country ever since she can remember. She’s also the granddaughter of the author of a cult classic fairytale collection–but she’s never even met her grandmother, or been able to read her stories, as they’ve become increasingly difficult to find. But then Alice’s mother goes missing, and more and more strange things start to happen, as Alice starts to wonder whether her grandmother’s stories might not be so fictional after all. The premise of this story sounded fantastic, but the execution didn’t go so well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, which relied way too hard on similes and metaphors for my taste, and I felt like the most interesting part of the book–Alice’s grandmother’s collection of fairy tales–went unfortunately unexplored. We only get to hear two of her stories, and not even in their entirety; we get little hints of others, but I think this book would’ve been SO much stronger if we actually got to read these fairy tales rather than having characters constantly referencing interesting-sounding stories that we never get to know. It also makes our main character seem less competent and interesting since she doesn’t know them either. Overall there were aspects of this book that I did like, but it was inconsistent and the ending was rushed and anticlimactic, especially considering its meandering buildup.
Roomies by Christina Lauren (3 stars) – This was a cute, quick contemporary romance about Holland, the niece of a lauded Broadway director, who is living a sort of directionless life in New York, and Calvin, a young Irish musician whose visa has expired and is performing on the subway and in various bands to pay his bills. Holland decides that Calvin would be perfect for a star orchestral part in her uncle’s show, and the two fake a marriage in order to allow him to join the cast. Of course, they then develop real feelings for each other, and drama ensues. My issue with this was that I found both main characters really unlikable in a lot of ways, and although I found the book very readable, I was never really on board for their romance. My favorite characters were Holland’s uncles, and I found myself wishing that they were this book’s main characters instead. I did recently hear that it’s being adapted into a movie; maybe it will work better in that format. Personally, I’d recommend skipping this one and reading The Hating Game instead.
Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2.5 stars) – This was the second book in Armentrout’s A Wicked Trilogy, which is an urban fantasy focused on the conflict between the fae and humans in New Orleans, and I definitely liked it less than the first book, Wicked. It went down a really dark and disturbing storyline, and I wasn’t in love with the series to begin with, so I’m not sure whether I’ll be picking up the third book.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (2.5 stars) – This month, I discovered the delightful and adorable Netflix movie version of this book, and enjoyed it so much that I immediately picked up the book version. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it quite as much as the movie, but it was still a cute read. I’m very much hoping the movie gets a sequel, though!
And here’s my August book haul: