Hi, friends!! 💗 Welcome to my final post in my summer wrap-up! August was another good reading month in terms of quantity, though I guess it didn’t feel like it at the time! For the final month of my very loosely-defined summer, I once again read 9 books!
My SHINee MV mood for the month of August is “Tell Me What To Do”. It still holds onto those last bits of carefree feelings, while dipping into a more somber mood. Also, I just really really adore this music video.
I started out the month with a light novel: The Dark Maidens by Rikako Akiyoshi. This wasn’t my first time reading a light novel, but it was definitely my first time reading anything in this format. The Literature Club at an all-girls school is in for a shock when one of the members of the club dies suddenly. The girls hold a meeting in which they read aloud the pieces they each wrote around the same topic: “The Death of Itsumi Shiraishi”. But everyone has different suspicions on who killed Itsumi…
This was a rashomon-style story, meaning that everyone has a different account of what happened that changed drastically based on who you ask and what perspective you’re looking through. The story was fun and interesting to read because of this, as some people’s accounts clashed wildly with others, and you could really see the strain on some of the relationships between club members because of it. The addresses made by the club president who was leading the meeting were what threw me off, though. It was the sort of direct address that also narrated what was happening, such as “Thank you for reading your story… oh, I see you look quite pale. Your hands are shaking so much. Why could that be? You seem to be crossing the room to sit down and your legs can barely hold you up.” (This isn’t a direct quote, by the way, I’m just making up an example of what it sounded like). That sort of thing always reads kind of awkwardly to me.
Still, it was cool that there were illustrations included. Each character also had a distinct voice, and I could definitely tell whose head we were in if I were to flip back through the chapters. I’d like to think I had a good idea of who I wanted to blame by the time we reached the end, but I still didn’t expect the actual ending! It was a little outlandish to me by the time I put the book down, but it was still quite a ride!
Ah, yes. After reading the first book sometime in the spring, I finally read A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. There’s not much I can say about the story (because it’s a sequel of course!) but that it continues after the events of ACOTAR. What I can tell you are my notes, which begin with this:
“HELLO I FUCKING LOVE RHYS”
That’s really the mood for the whole book, isn’t it? I just love Rhysand. I loved getting to know more of his background and get to know his friends. The book was just a lot of fun overall. I definitely had a hard time getting into certain parts, though, but that’s just my brain being permanently set to “contemporary”.
The third book I finished in August was Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry! In the interest of keeping this post from getting too long, I’ll kindly direct you to this post where you can see my post about my experience reading it and getting my first Book of the Month YA box.
I think around this point in the month, I was threatened with a reading slump. My boyfriend and I decided to buddy-read Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau. It was such a cozy reading experience, because we curled up together and shared the book between us. The book was just as cozy: we follow Ari, who desperately wants to move to the city to start up his band and get on with his life, but is forced to work in the family bakery. Thankfully, he meets Hector, who makes his days go quicker and his heart flutter.
Like Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, this graphic novel follows a certain color palette — blues and blacks — and it’s really stunning. I loved the way flowers are added to the pages whenever Ari and Hector’s relationship was “blooming”. It was really lovely!
But their relationship was hard to get into thanks to Ari. My boyfriend and I were both frustrated with his lack of communication and tendencies to just be avoidant overall. I also felt that the ending was rushed. I could have used a few more pages of emotional exploration, especially on Ari’s part. Without it, it seemed like a magical fix to a problem that I wish more people would discuss navigating (communicate, people!!!)
Still, the book was cute and an easy, cozy read.
Friends… we have made it to my favorite reads of the whole summer. Maybe. Probably. They were just so good, okay??? That would be books one and two of Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk.
These books… were everything. Twelve-year-old Danielle is having a hard time since she started seventh grade. Her close friends aren’t in her classes, and she feels left out often. When she inherits a magical sketchbook from an aunt who recently passed, she finds out that anything she draws in it will come to life! Suddenly, she has a fix to her friendless problem: Madison, the best friend she’s drawn just for her!
Oh my god. This book was so cute!! The colors were so soothing and pretty. Danielle was basically me at age 12, dying to have friends but not knowing how to put herself out there. Also, obsessed with Sailor Moon. She’s obsessed with a series very similar to it and the first thing she draws is the head of her favorite character, the dreamy villain she’s a fan of that becomes the floating head that follows her around calling her “Princess Danielle”. I laughed so much whenever he was around!
The concept was something I’d dreamt of so often as a child, except with a magical notebook (since I’m a writer and all that). I was delighted reading about Danielle living out her dreams through this magical sketchbook! Her friendship with Madison gets complicated when Madi realizes that she’s not “real”, and Danielle has to think about what it means to make choices for other people and how to really be a friend. There were lots of things to think about that I think kids will be able to reflect on without feeling preached at. There’s also enough jokes for older people to laugh at while enjoying all of the fun! I really really really adored these books. I think I need to get copies for my own personal library soon.
Spooky season started to hit me towards the end of the month, and I decided to pick up Final Girls by Riley Sager. Up until this point, I hadn’t read any of his books, but I know they’re talked about often on booktube. I thought I’d go through them in publication order, starting with this one about a girl who was the sole survivor of a massacre of her friends years ago. Along with two other women who have survived similar ordeals, she’s been deemed a “final girl” by the media. But one day, one of those women takes her own life, and our main character, Quincy, is left reeling. Because what if she didn’t actually take her own life?
I listened to the audiobook for this, and I think the narration was pretty good. The story itself was also engaging, for the most part. I found myself invested quickly, and my commutes to work zoomed by while I listened to this. Sadly, I found the ending to be a bit… predictable. I had guessed at what happened early to midway through the book, though I’d hoped that it wouldn’t be the case (it was, haha). That wouldn’t be too bad if I were more engaged throughout the ending, where I found my mind wandering. It’s definitely not my favorite of Riley Sager’s books so far, but it was a fun start.
My second to last book of the month was an attempt at a classic, the beloved Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. If you haven’t read it yet or seen the Netflix show (I haven’t yet!), the story is about siblings who decide to adopt a little boy to help on their farm — but they get this outspoken red-headed little girl instead! Their lives after that are certainly changed…
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began this novel. I’m not really a fan of classics, but this one was so recommended by my customers across various ages. I thought it might be the relaxing read I needed this summer, and I’m so happy that I was right! It was so much fun, but also so funny! Anne is so talkative that the people around her are often making tongue-in-cheek remarks about it that fly right over her head (I’m looking at you, Marilla). She’s also incredibly dramatic, as children tend to be. But it was such a sweet, heart-warming way of expressing herself that I found my heart swelling among my laughter. Anne gets herself into so many situations, some of which might not have been a big deal had they taken place during this time, some of them more serious but still fun to read about. I didn’t expect the novel to take place over so many years, but it was quite a joy being able to join Anne on so many adventures and through so many experiences.
I truly can’t wait to continue on with the series and begin watching the show!
The final book I read in August was an appropriate summer read: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno. Rosa Santos is cursed; not only does her family know this, but the town that has become like an extended version of her family is also very aware. The Santos women lose their men to the sea. Her life seems to be as tumultuous as the sea right now, too — college decisions loom and a mysterious boy with ties to the sea makes himself known to her.
Rosa is absolutely adorable. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator was able to pick up on her energy pretty well! She has a bullet journal! She’s super organized and on top of everything and it’s really sweet. Her town means a lot to her, because they truly are a community in every sense of the word. It was nice to read about because I’ve never really been a part of anything like that growing up. They really all work together and operate like a family, in some cases. Port Coral and the house that Rosa shares with her Abuela reminded me of a cozy Cuban Ghibli movie.
Speaking of Abuela, it was really interesting to see how pain was passed down through generations. Whether or not they talk about it, Rosa, her mother, and her abuela are haunted by Cuba and the sea. Rosa, while affected by both, have never experienced them head-on, yet the pain still overwhelms her and everything she does. I loved seeing the exploration of how trauma is passed down through generations, how we confront it, and what we choose to do with it.
But… 😞 There were things that kept me from really enjoying this. The story moved fast, sometimes too fast for me to take in what was happening or feel things for the characters. The audiobook’s narrator put inflections on words in strange places, and it felt disconnected after a while. Rosa, when talking about Alex, would constantly repeat “He’s a boy. With a boat.” It was a little exhausting to be constantly be beat over the head with this rather than expressing Rosa’s hesitant approach due to her family’s trauma in another way. It made me see Alex as simply “the boat boy”.
In the end, I was glad I read it, and I’m especially thankful for how positively it’s been received by some of my friends, who are overjoyed to see themselves represented! But it ended up falling a little flat for me. I’m still interested to see what Nina Moreno will do next; her characters will clearly be realistic and cute, no doubt!
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We’re finally here: the end of the summer wrap-up! If you’re more of a video person, you can check out this video where I talk about my favorite reads of this summer!
Did you read any of these? What did you think? What were your favorite books of this summer? 🌻