I thought that I might not need a Part One and Part Two this month, but, well, here we are. It’s August 15th and I’ve read ten books, not including graphic novels. You can expect a post about those graphic novels later this month though! It should be noted that I have yet to read a single book from my TBR in August (though I did finish up Moral Defense last month). I would say I’ll do better next month, but… well.
So far this month I have read one debut novel, one 2017 release, and two books up for the Man Booker Award. That last bit is a new category, which is a weak attempt by myself to make me read more literary fiction. It has spawned the purchase of three more literary fiction books so… That’s something. We’ll see. Now, on to the books!
1. Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate
This is the debut novel I read, which came out last year. Riley Redgate has also written Noteworthy, which sounds adorable and is also on my TBR. I loved this book. At first I was iffy about it because there are so many characters we hear from, but I just genuinely enjoyed it. Oddly enough, one of my favorite character’s perspectives was Juniper whose chapters were written in prose. I did have a slight issue with the way the teacher/student relationship was handled. It was condemned and romanticized all at once, so that was an odd paradox.
The premise of this book is basically that each character represents one of the deadly sins and they’re all kind of dealing with their own issues. Olivia’s mom left several years ago, she’s being slut-shamed, her sister is being vaguely awful, and her dad may as well have disappeared. Kat is Olivia’s sister who is clearly suffering from depression and is very invested in her school’s play (The Hidden Things). Matt is an adorable cinnamon roll who smokes too much pot to avoid his family life, but also takes such excellent care of his little brother. I believe he is Latinx. Juniper faces a lot of pressure from her parents and has some stuff happening in her personal life. Valentine is asexual, aromantic, and I think has Aspergers. His chapters are very distinctive and I really enjoyed his voice. Claire is my least favorite character and exceptionally relatable. She is jealous of her friends, she’s a high achieving person, and she is unbelievably insecure. It was incredibly relatable and something I know my high school self would have related to even more. Finally there is Lucas, who is pansexual, but trying to keep that on the down low. He’s also the local drug dealer and really likes having nice things. He also loves keeping lists, which, same, so I really liked him.
I rated this a five out of five originally, but I think it’s probably more of a 4 star read. I really enjoyed it though and I’m very excited to read Noteworthy because I’ve heard it’s even better!
2. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I LOVED THIS BOOK. It’s one of my favorites of 2017 and I know I’m not going to be able to adequately describe the magical-ness of this book. I want to re-read it again already. This is a very short book that packs a lot into 169 pages. Basically, this book is set at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, which is a home for children who went to another world (like Narnia or Wonderland) and have returned to the real world and are having issues adjusting. Nancy is the main character and she’s returned from an Underworld place, where she had to stand still like a statue a lot, but really loved it and wants to return. That’s all I want to say about this book because it’s best to go in blind. I will note that there is a Trans boy and Nancy is asexual. I believe there was also a Japanese American side character and a Latinx side character, but I’m not 100% sure. I am SO excited to read the next book in this series!
I’ll leave you with this quote that I adored: “Call it irony, if you like, but we spend so much time waiting for our boys to stray that they never have the opportunity. We notice the silence of men. We depend on the silence of women.”
Oh, and this was a 5 out of 5. Undoubtedly.
3. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
August has been a really fantastic month for me, thus far, because Queens of Geek is also one of my favorite books of 2017. I am planning to write a review on this book, spoiler free, provided that I don’t get distracted by a book that I read between now and the 21st. We shall see. (Also, this picture is a combination of this perfect book with a canvas painting that Jaclyn made me with a lyric from a woman who I love the way Taylor loves Skylar. Coincidentally, my Queen is also named Taylor.)
Queens of Geek is about these three friends who travel from Australia to Los Angeles for SupaCon. The book is basically about friendship, love, and identity, which was just what I wanted. Taylor has anxiety, Aspergers, and is plus size. Charlie is a Chinese Australian, bisexual, vlogger turned movie star. Jamie is PERFECT. I love him. I love all of them, but let’s be real. I identified with Taylor so much because her anxiety was so perfectly representative of mine and she loves Jamie and Jamie loves her and I love Jamie. You know? Yeah. I’m a fan.
I just loved this book so much and I hope you all read it because it’s perfect. My favorite things about it were the anxiety rep because the descriptions were just so perfect. Also, I really love books that are basically just about fandom life. Fandom has been a part of my life since I fell in love with Harry Potter in third grade. The memories of midnight releases are memories I’ll treasure forever. So yes, fandom books are my jam. Loved this.
4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Hopefully you’ve seen my Book Talk of The Underground Railroad. I still can’t figure out how I’m supposed to process that book so I’m definitely still happy to talk to anyone and everyone about it. I think this book is incredibly important. I didn’t realize until I went in search of other people’s reviews that many individuals feel like a slavery fatigue where they’ve read too many books and watched too many storylines with slavery. This wasn’t an issue for me because I haven’t really sought out books with slavery being a plot point, largely because I’ve been doing an excellent job avoiding books with a “serious” plot for a few years now. This book reminded me why. It was so difficult to read, but so worth it.
Anyway, the book is about Cora who escapes from the Randall Plantation in Georgia by way of the Underground Railroad, only in this book, it’s actually a train. The book takes you through various places and it’s a fascinating and haunting story about some things in American history we would like to ignore.
I think that it is more important than ever to read books that reflect experiences from other cultures and backgrounds than the predominant culture. And I think it’s important to confront the horrible things that we’ve done in the past. So, for what it’s worth, I highly recommend you read this book, especially if you (like me) are not experiencing slavery fatigue.
5. What a Girl Wants by Kate Perry
I really enjoy Kate Perry’s books for what they are, which are really great contemporary romances. This one is the first book in a new series, but it’s also a part of the Summerville series, kind of, in that the hero is the cousin who inherited the Summerville title.
Basically, this book is about Ariana, who has a skin care line that is very small and an overbearing retired father who wants her to take her company nationwide. So he, without her consent, calls in a favor with Sebastian Tate. Sebastian and Ariana are a great couple and there’s a lot of personal growth, which I appreciated. I’m not sure that Sebastian’s character arc was quite as thorough as Ariana’s, because he was already a pretty developed character through the Summerville series.
6. Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid
I’ve posted a review of this book already so if you’ve read that, you know that I absolutely loved this book. I feel like it was exactly what I needed at the time. It’s so funny, but also has a very emotional element that had me crying in chapter three. The weird swears are a little weird, but it’s great, overall.
Basically, this book is about Ashley Winston who travels home to a small town in Tennessee because something has happened to her mom. Ashley hasn’t been home in eight years because she and her six brothers did not get along. At all. Her mother appointed Drew (not a Winston brother) as the Executor of her will and gave him Power of Attorney, which Ashley takes as a slight betrayal, but quickly realizes this is a good thing. However, Ashley and Drew do not get along as first, but Drew does a great job taking care of Ashley. One of my favorite things about this book was the friendship and family themes. I just really appreciated the way relationships were explored in this book outside of the romantic relationship. That’s one of my favorite things in romance novels because relationships do not happen in a vacuum, so it’s always nice to see people intersect. I would highly recommend. Also, I believe many of Penny Reid’s books are still free on Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription. If you want more of my thoughts, check out my spoiler free review!
7. Scorpius Rising by Rebecca Zanetti
This is a novella that sort of sets up the Scorpius Syndrome series, which is this sort of dystopian setting where this bacteria (Scorpius) has killed a whole bunch of people and those that have survived are different. They’re changed somehow. The novella is really about Nora, a scientist, and her ex-husband, Deacon, a soldier. I really liked the set-up for what it was, but I needed it to be a full story for me to appreciate the romance. I really appreciated some of the foreshadowing with Brent Abernathy or whatever his name is. I’m not sure the novella would succeed at making you want to continue in the series? But I really did enjoy it for what it was and it did make me want to finally read the third book in the series.
8. The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn
I hate this cover, honestly, but I really enjoyed this book. I definitely predicted Sir Richard’s secret, but that in no way took away from my enjoyment of this book. Is it my favorite Julia Quinn? No, definitely not. But I really like Iris as a heroine and I adore Sarah so I was excited to see her. I missed Honoria though. I found myself wishing we could just have a full reunion. However, the bit about the play? Yeah, I laughed through the entire chapter. Out loud.
As for what this book is about, Iris wants to disappear behind her viola at the annual Smythe-Smith musicale and Sir Richard notices her. Sir Richard happens to be in dire need of a wife and he chooses Iris. His courtship of her is adorable, but rushed because he needs to marry her immediately. He’s not the ideal hero, his flaws are more apparent than a lot of other heroes, but I didn’t mind. I don’t want to spoil anything though so I’ll leave it at that!
I gave this book 5 stars because (a) I’m bad at rating things and (b) I really enjoyed my time reading this book.
This book is also one that is long listed for the Man Booker Prize this year, like The Underground Railroad. That isn’t why I read it. I’d heard so much about it on BookTube that I knew I had to pick it up and I’m very glad that I did.
Basically, this book takes place in a country where civil war is about to break out and there are rumors of these doors. The doors appear randomly and take those who walk through them somewhere else. We mainly follow Saeed and Nadia, but the book also shows us snippets of other people’s journeys through the doors. Some have good experiences and some have not so good experiences.
This book seems to be marketed as a sort of love story in troubled times and I feel like it is and isn’t. Saeed and Nadia do meet and fall in love, or something like it, and this book is about them, but it’s about their journey with these doors that take you from one place to another, such that it isn’t really about them at all. However, one of the aspects of their relationship that I did like is that it felt real. This isn’t one of those books where the couple falls in love in desperate times and they are happy with each other while the world around them falls apart. It felt realistic and raw. I particularly liked this line, “She was uncertain what to do to disarm the cycles of annoyance they seemed to be entering into with one another, since once begun such cycles are difficult to break, in fact the opposite, as if each makes the threshold for irritation next time a bit lower, as is the case with certain allergies.”
Mostly, I think that this book is a really excellent to read because of it’s reflection on the human experience and the experience of refugees. I really enjoyed this book, but I did ultimately rate it a 4 because of the ending.
10. Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
I received an arc of Dress Codes for Small Towns from fellow Tarheel, Jamie, who I met via Twitter. She sent this book to me because I had expressed interest in it and I am so appreciative because I loved this book so much. I’m going to post a full review of it soon, so for now I’ll just tell you that I loved it and give you a quick synopsis.
Basically, it’s about Billie (short for Elizabeth) and her friends (The Hexagon) and their life in a small town in Kentucky. Billie is a pastor’s daughter and her dad puts a lot of pressure on her to conform to the mold that society has laid out for women, but she doesn’t fit into that mold at all. This book is really about her exploring her identity and her sexuality and reckoning with how all of that fits in with her family, her town, and her relationship with God. This feels especially pressing to her because she thinks she might be in love with both of her best friends (Woods (m) and Janie Lee (f)) and whoops, maybe crushing on Davey too.
This book made me laugh out loud, scream a couple of times in frustration, and cry. It was so good. An easy 5 out of 5 rating and a spot on my Favorites of 2017 shelf on Goodreads. I’ll have more of my thoughts for you posted soon! In the meantime, preorder the book! It comes out on August 22nd!
And that is the first ten books that I read in August 2017! What about you all? What are you reading? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know!