Hello everyone, and happy August!! How have you all been spending your summer (or winter, depending on the hemisphere)? For me personally, July was a much-needed reprieve from school stress, and I finally got the chance to indulge in some fantastic books, which I’ll be talking about in this post! I feel like I’m supposed to say something more in this intro, but it’s been so long since I’ve written a wrap-up—the last one was in March, I think—and my head is just blanking on what I’m supposed to write 😅 So why don’t we just go ahead and get started!
I read seven books this month, which is a huge accomplishment considering my less-than-impressive track record this year 🥳
The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning. I’ve been excited to read this since before it released—I mean, a feminist fantasy inspired by The Princess Bride? Sign me up!! And the book delivered on its pitch… on some level. Like TPB, The Princess Will Save You was filled with adventure, romance, sword fights, and above all, tropes. Also, the heroine stabbed people. In other words, it was basically a standard YA fantasy. I was rather bored for the first three-quarters, but the last 25% definitely upped the stakes and got me very invested in what the next book holds for the characters. Avid YA readers aren’t missing out on too much with this book, but I would recommend it for people looking to explore the fantasy genre or in need of a palate cleanser. ★ ★ ★
🎧 Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. A quick but chilling read from the one and only Jason Reynolds! I made the unfortunate decision to start listening to the audiobook at 11 in the evening and ended up being too creeped out to go to sleep 😅 It’s not a stereotypical ghost story, but something about the various characters entering the elevator one by one and seeing how their lives and deaths have affected Will refused to leave my mind for days after finishing the book. I would definitely recommend this for people looking for a thoughtful read about gun violence! ★ ★ ★ ★
Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao. A solid, satisfactory Asian fantasy! I enjoyed this one and loved following the cast along their journeys, especially since Lan and Bao had such compelling character arcs. Their combined character development resulted in the SoftestTM, tenderest second-chance romance ever 🥰 This book has definitely put Julie C. Dao on my radar, and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is going right on my priority TBR! ★ ★ ★ ½
🎧 Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee. This book. My goodness, THIS BOOK. The first half was on the slower side, which kind of turned me off, but I ended up loving the rest of the book thanks to its endearing characters and complex relationships. Especially Valora and Jamie’s sibling bond, which was so beautiful and made me go 🥺❤️ The pacing gradually picked up speed as the story reached its climax; the last 20% was just pure adrenaline 😨 I loved that all the different aspects that Stacey Lee explored with this story: anti-Asian racism, acrobatics, the luxury of the Titanic’s first-class, family relationships, and even haute couture. And don’t even get me STARTED on the ending 😭 (Buddy read with Ren & Veronica!) ★ ★ ★ ★
🎧 Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. I was right to go into this one with high expectations! Instructions for Dancing was the perfect balance between fluffy romance and tragic magical realism. One moment I was having a meltdown because of a cuteness overload from the main couple, the next I was on the verge of tears over Evie’s inner monologue. The last 15% was a ROLLERCOASTER. I was sobbing by the time the last chapter rolled around. So many insights on love and pain and heartbreak and how they are inextricably tied together. ★ ★ ★ ★
🎧 We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. Stunning. Gorgeous. Heart-wrenching. Quite possibly the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. There was something about this story that struck me to my very core. Maybe it was because of the complex, three-dimensional characters. Or the beautifully expressive writing. Or the honest portrayal of the difficulties of growing up Asian-American in the United States. Whatever it was, this book now belongs on my all-time favorites shelf. Just thinking about it still makes me want to burst into tears. (Buddy read with April & Katie!) ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
🎧 The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Okay, I see why people are so obsessed with this one. The Inheritance Games was a thoroughly entertaining story with immaculately plotted puzzles and characters with surprising depth. I picked this book up to take a break from all the heartbreak of my previous reads, but it turned out to be the worst possible choice I could make—I ended up with even more emotional damage because of all the twists and turns Barnes put me through 🤯 My only complaint is that the main character, Avery, deserves better than either Grayson or Jameson, and she deserves better than THAT ENDING. I have a feeling the second book is going to resolve some of my frustrations, but ugh. Still frustrated. ★ ★ ★ ★
As you might have noticed from the many headphones emojis (🎧), I’ve taken to regularly listening to audiobooks this month, and I am officially in love with them 😍 They’ve truly been a lifesaver for me. You see, I’ve developed this weird habit these past few months where my brain has to analyze literally even the simplest of sentences at least three times over whenever I read a physical/digital book. As you can imagine, it’s very annoying, not to mention incredibly exhausting—I think school has scarred me for life 😭 Audiobooks help so much with this, and they also help me get through books so much faster. Can’t recommend them enough!
I haven’t been able to blog-hop all that often these past few months, but here are a few amazing posts that I was able to read!
- Stephen @ Stephen Writes reviewed The Silence of Bones by June Hur, one of my favorite reads of 2020, and I was so thrilled to hear that he loved it as much as I did!
- Krysta @ Pages Unbound shared her thoughts on Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe, one of my most anticipated releases!
- Belle @ This Belle Reads Too shared an incredible list of 15 Asian-authored books featuring siblings
- Nehal @ Quirky Pages wrote a very helpful post about 7 mistakes you might be making as a new blogger
- Ruby @ Ruby Rae Reads wrote a rave review of You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry that made me want to pick it up straightaway
- Sans @ Sans Screams Books launched her book blog with a list of books on her high-priority TBR
- Kal @ Reader Voracious discussed 10+ different affiliate programs for book bloggers to join
- Octavia @ Mermaid Reads reviewed Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer, making me even more excited to pick it up when it comes out in September!
- Kaya @ A Fictional Bookworm talked about the dark side of being a YA author, including issues such as piracy, pay, and cancel culture
Waitress (musical). Unexpectedly catchy tunes, lovely characterization, the sheer power of Jessie Mueller’s vocals—definitely worth a listen!
Clean with Passion for Now & My First First Love (K-dramas). Both of these were on the better side of the “just fine” spectrum, I guess? The former is a good choice if you’re craving mindless rom-com fluff with a surprisingly somber dose of emotional angst. The latter is a good choice if you’re looking for a slightly more subdued coming-of-age friends-to-lovers romance. You can watch CWPFN for free on Viki; MFFL is available on Netflix.
Touch Your Heart (K-drama). Ahhhhh this drama 😍 Touch Your Heart isn’t a cinematic masterpiece nor does it have a very original storyline, but it deserves all the love just for how warm and fuzzy it makes you feel. The premise: An actress suffering from the aftereffects of a drug scandal starts working at a law firm to prepare for her comeback role, and ends up working as a secretary for the firm’s prickly (but annoyingly attractive) ace—and you could say that sparks start to fly 😏 This show is, in one pitch, a big bag of romance tropes, with a few murder cases mixed in, featuring two main leads with fantastic chemistry. It’s been so long since I’ve watched a K-drama that does all the clichés justice while still managing to keep me engaged for all 16 episodes 😍 Highly recommended if you’re seeking a high-quality rendition of the traditional K-rom-com formula! Available to watch on Netflix.
July was a good month. Things are still busy, even without school, what with preparing for next year’s classes and balancing all my different hobbies (books! K-dramas! binging YouTube videos!)… but it feels so good getting the chance to breathe in, breathe out for what feels like the first time in a long while 😌
Also, I’m now fully vaccinated! I felt rather out of sorts for a few days after the second shot, but otherwise, everything went smoothly, which I’m very grateful for!
I’ve had the chance to spend more time reading the Bible (though I still procrastinate way too much), and this passage stood out to me during my reflections:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalms 139:7-12 NIV)
Thinking about how even my inner darkness is not dark enough to deter Him evokes so many different emotions within me. I hope it touches your heart as well ❤️
Here’s a (very tentative) possibility pile of books I’d like to get to in August! I’m currently in the mood for contemporary, though I may end up shifting toward fantasy by the end of the month 🤔 Whatever happens, hopefully I’ll be able to check at least a few of these off my TBR!
And that’s it! Thank you all for reading 🥰 I’d love to hear from you in the comments section! What was your favorite read of July and what are you planning to read this month? Anything exciting happen in July? Anything planned for August? ❤️
Wishing you all a lovely month ahead! 💖