So, August’s almost over and school’s starting in six days. I know I say this every single month, but I can’t believe where the time is going. It’s freaking insane. Feels like 2016 started yesterday, and we’re already more than halfway through. Wild.
August was a decent month for me reading-wise, but a really great month overall. If you follow me on Twitter, you might know this but I landed an internship at Macmillan Publishing. I honestly can’t believe I was even called in for an interview, but I’m so excited to experience the publishing industry from within. My first day is on the 6th, which is when school starts too, so I’m going to be very busy this semester. Hopefully, I’ll keep up with blogging and reading because last academic year, everything was thrown severely off balance.
Speaking of school, I’m all moved in to my new dorm! I think the main reason I go to the university I go to is because of the location; living in the heart of New York City is such a stimulating, vibrant experience. This time I’m living in SoHo, and I love how diverse this neighborhood is! There are two independent bookstores five minutes away from me (my bank account is already weeping), and the Strand Bookstore is walking distance as well. I share my suite with one other girl, and we decided that we’d move one of the beds out from the bedroom into the common area and basically make it a suite of two singles, in a way. I’m going to be residing in the room, and having a single for the entire year is so nice.
Also, this strange thing happened. I lived in a small city in Pakistan from when I was born to when I was five years old, before I moved to a bigger city. One of my friends from when I was literally five years old was visiting New York, and she contacted me on Facebook and wanted to meet up. I saw her after fifteen years. That is crazy, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to hang out with her. Life can be so strange sometimes.
I read a total of eight books this month, which is pretty good considering two of the books were freaking massive. Quality-wise, I think this was my best month of the year. I read a few very good books (I gave 4 books 4+ stars, that’s insane). Here’s everything I read:
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab | 3.5 stars
I’ve grown to expect so much from Schwab after having read her A Darker Shade of Magic series, which is why This Savage Song was a bit of a let-down, which is not to say that it wasn’t good. I really liked the characters- I was immediately drawn to them, but I felt that the world-building’s potential wasn’t fully explored. The pacing was the main let-down though. It was very slow-burn but after the 50% mark, it’s non-stop action. Sometimes, breathers can do wonders for development and storytelling!
Watching Edie (eARC) by Camilla Way | 4 stars
Watching Edie was an extremely enjoyable psychological thriller. I loved how Way revealed information in just the right bursts without giving too much away, and without holding too much back. I loved how the novel was told in dual time frames with dual perspectives. It was an interesting exploration of the values of friendship, of loss, betrayal, judgment and human monstrosity. Trigger warning for (highlight the next words)sexual assault.
The Graces (ARC) by Laure Eve | 1.5 stars
The Graces came highly anticipated, but it was a severe let-down. It was reminiscent of Twilight in more ways than one, but less enjoyable (I can’t believe I’m saying that). The characters all fell flat, and the protagonist was highly unlikable. I don’t mind unlikable characters as long as they have depth and motive, but River felt empty. The plot dragged, and the only reason this book got the extra .5 star is because the writing was pretty good.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed | 4 stars
This book was my first book with a Pakistani-American protagonist, and I really enjoyed how Saeed incorporated cultural elements with an engaging story. It started off light and vanilla but soon transcended into an intense study of a problem all too common all over the world. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s looking to familiarize themselves with the concept of forced marriages, while gaining authentic, sensitive, poignant insight into another culture. Trigger warning for marital rape and abuse.
Every Falling Star (eARC) by Sungju Lee | 3 stars
Again, I’ve never read a book set in North Korea, and a YA memoir was a great way to get into the setting. Every Falling Star was a harrowing look into our very own dystopia; told with childlike innocence, it chronicles Sungju’s life and escape from North Korea. Tragic, dreary and absolutely terrifying, this book is a glaring reminder that our problems can hardly be called problems at all in the face of what our fellow human beings are suffering. However, I felt that the writing was a little flat, and there was so much dialogue that all the various characters blended together.
The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson | 4.5 stars
The Remnant Chronicles started off alright, but the series improved exponentially as it went along. Although teasing conventional tropes like the love triangle and the Chosen One, it doesn’t fall prey to them and utilizes them brilliantly. Pearson’s writing is wonderful, and the finale was beyond satisfactory. I loved how each and every character evolves and develops, learns from his/her mistakes to come out stronger on the other side. I can’t say too much about this book since it is the conclusion, but I’d urge everyone to pick up this series. And if you’re like me and thought the first book was meh, please do give the second one a chance. It gets better!
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | 3.5 stars
This was an incredibly fun read about love, family and friendship. I love contemporaries where the many aspects of life are tied together to form a cohesive, complete story. I loved that Emi’s passion for film and design felt like an entire character in itself, and I thought the writing was wonderful. I did think that some storylines dragged a little, and I might have liked a more polished conclusion to the film aspect of the book, but I very much enjoyed it.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara | 4 stars
This book was a difficult read in more ways than one. It’s incredibly long and incredibly depressing, but it was beautifully written with characters so full of depth that they felt like friends. Despite it being 800 pages long, I was never bored, and I didn’t skim a single page, which is a feat in itself. It explores themes of love, loss, trust, shame, sex, existence, compassion and perseverance so brilliantly. It will evoke extreme emotions from you- trust me, they’re not exaggerating when they say that you need to read this with a wad of tissues nearby. Trigger warning for sexual and physical abuse, self-harm, suicidal ideations, abusive relationships and depression.
August was a fantastic blogging month for me, even though I wish I’d participated a little more. I’m terrible at commenting and replying to comments; I don’t know why. I read and appreciate all your posts and all your comments, but I suck at actually typing my replies out. I’m trying to fix all that- maybe next month will be better.
I think my blogging highlight of this month is definitely the new meme I created. I realized that there’s a lot of discourse surrounding diverse books recently and the push to demand authors to include more diversity in their works. But I also noticed that the existing diverse literature is not paid enough attention. I created my Diversity Spotlight Thursday meme in the hopes that diverse books that are already on the shelves, as well as those releasing soon get the buzz that they deserve. Perhaps it will push more people to pick up diverse books. If you’d like to know more, you can read my announcement post or check out the first ever Diversity Spotlight Thursday.
Nagina’s post aptly describes why we need diversity in literature, and I’d urge anyone reading to definitely give her post a read.
Here is everything I published in the month of August:
Night Film by Marisha Pessl | This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab | Watching Edie by Camilla Way | The Graces by Laure Eve | Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed | Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee | The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson | Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour | A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Let’s talk about trigger warnings in books
Diversity Spotlight Thursday:
Top Ten Tuesday:
Spotlighting the Non-Bookish
Young the Giant’s new album titled Home of the Strange has thoroughly impressed me. I’ve been a fan of theirs since the release of “Cough Syrup,” but never really followed their music until I gave this album a full listen. Favorites include “Amerika” and “Repeat.”
Another song I’ve been obsessed with recently is A R I Z O N A’s “I Was Wrong.” Honestly, Spotify’s a God-send. I’ve discovered such amazing music since I’ve joined – music including Hozier, James Bay, RHODES, Kevin Garrett, James Vincent McMorrow- stuff that has become some of my favorite music.
Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard me talk about this show. But the Night Of is an incredible, incredible miniseries that began in mid-July on HBO. It’s basically an amalgamation of crime-drama and murder-mystery. The protagonist is a Pakistan-American, and I think the show does such a brilliant job of authentically portraying Pakistani families, their mannerisms, and it doesn’t fall prey to any stereotypes whatsoever. The little things, the details are what makes this show stand out. It’s slow-burn but completely enchanting. The acting is top-notch, the cinematography stunning.
Well, that’s all I have for this month’s recap. Let me know in the comments below what your favorites of this month were! What book did you like the best? Any new TV or music or movies? I’d love to know! As always, thank you so much for stopping by and happy reading. <3