August 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

August was all over the place for me. I just got a new job that I’m super excited about, though it’s been a long road to get here. My reading has reflected my changing moods over the course of the month. 

In total, I read four novels and three manga. The lowest rating I gave in August was 3.5, while the highest was 5. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC for one of my most anticipated 2022 releases. Unfortunately, I also DNF’d two books.

Anyway, to quote Kennie JD, let’s get on with the debauchery!

My Hero Academia, Vol. 5-6 by Kohei Horikoshi

Summary: What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks” at age four? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny…

My Thoughts: I’m slowly realizing that while I’m reading this series, I enjoy it; however, when I’m not reading it I don’t think about it at all. I’m also deeply uncomfortable with how the female characters are written. Honestly, I might give up on this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Summary: The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation.

Enter the latest round of six: Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona, unwilling halves of an unfathomable whole, who exert uncanny control over every element of physicality. Reina Mori, a naturalist, who can intuit the language of life itself. Parisa Kamali, a telepath who can traverse the depths of the subconscious, navigating worlds inside the human mind. Callum Nova, an empath easily mistaken for a manipulative illusionist, who can influence the intimate workings of a person’s inner self. Finally, there is Tristan Caine, who can see through illusions to a new structure of reality—an ability so rare that neither he nor his peers can fully grasp its implications.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.

My Thoughts: While this book was well-written and kept me reading, I have some criticisms. I thought the character development could’ve used a lot more work and there should’ve been more focus on their education. Still, I’ll probably read the sequel. Check out my full review here!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Summary: Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or… has he? When his sister’s best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.

Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 man who shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie… wants him? Oh yes.

Getting involved would be a terrible idea— her stay is temporary and he wants forever— but when Brendon learns Annie has given up on dating, he’s determined to prove that romance is real. Taking cues from his favorite rom-coms, Brendon plans to woo her with elaborate dates straight out of Nora Ephron’s playbook. The clock is ticking on Annie’s time in Seattle, and Brendon’s starting to realize romance isn’t just flowers and chocolate. But maybe real love doesn’t need to be as perfect as the movies… as long as you think your partner hung the moon.

My Thoughts: While I enjoyed this one just a teeny bit less than Written in the Stars, it was still really fun read. Annie and Brendon are too cute. I really like the way Bellefleur takes classic romance tropes and turns them on their head.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (ARC)

Summary: Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant— her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?

My Thoughts: I love these two so much I’m about to combust. Childhood friends to lovers is my weakness, even if the lovers part doesn’t truly come until eleven years later. This is also easily the hottest book I’ve ever read. I think WITS is still my favorite of the trilogy, but this one is a close second. Check out my full review here!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Summary: An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic.

My Thoughts: I read this book because it’s on a lot of dark academia recommendation lists, but I don’t know that it truly qualifies. At least, having that context colored the way I viewed this book. The stakes don’t feel high enough, in my opinion. I also can’t tell if I love or hate these characters. Maybe both. The novel is definitely well-written, just not something I’ll ever read again.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Satan’s Secretary, Vol. 1 by Kamotsu Kamonabe

Summary: Satan has awoken and is dead set on conquering the human world. His secret weapon? A human woman with an unimaginable talent for organizing his demon army and keeping the conquest on track. But why would a mild-mannered woman like the Secretary betray the human race? And will Satan survive her strict schedule? Either way the human world is in big trouble!

My Thoughts: This was a lot of fun! I found myself laughing out loud and had a smile on my face the whole time. The bit does start to get a little tiresome after a while, but that may just be because I read it one sitting. I definitely recommend!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Dictee by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Summary: Dictée is the best-known work of the versatile and important Korean American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. A classic work of autobiography that transcends the self, Dictée is the story of several women: the Korean revolutionary Yu Guan Soon, Joan of Arc, Demeter and Persephone, Cha’s mother Hyung Soon Huo (a Korean born in Manchuria to first-generation Korean exiles), and Cha herself. The elements that unite these women are suffering and the transcendence of suffering. The book is divided into nine parts structured around the Greek Muses. Cha deploys a variety of texts, documents, images, and forms of address and inquiry to explore issues of dislocation and the fragmentation of memory. The result is a work of power, complexity, and enduring beauty.

My Thoughts: I think I’m just too smooth-brained for this one. The book feels smartly written, but I had no idea what was going on. Maybe I’d have eventually figured it out, but I don’t have the patience for that. I’d rather focus on books on my TBR. 

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Summary: Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam— by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family— and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche— both sacred and profane.

My Thoughts: I actually haven’t decided whether I’m just taking a break from this one or fully DNF-ing it. I wouldn’t quite say it’s triggering for me, but it’s very uncomfortable for me to be in the head of someone actively struggling with an eating disorder. I think most people have an unhealthy relationship with food, and I’ve been no exception until recently. I also don’t like Miriam. She’s pushy and rude to service workers. I may pick this one back up, but I’m not sure. We’ll see.

What did you read in August? Tell me about it in the comments!

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