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August Reading Wrap-Up

In August I read eight books and listened to eight audiobooks. This is what I thought about these books and they are loosely listed in order of least to most favorite!


Rating: 2 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city's crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.


Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life--work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists--not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other's orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.


Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other--and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.


Rating: 3 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: an aunt teaches me how to tell

an edible flower

from a poisonous one.

just in case, I hear her say, just in case.


From a co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls comes an imaginative, soulful debut poetry that collection captures the experiences of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America. Orphaned as a child, Fatimah Asghar grapples with coming of age and navigating questions of sexuality and race without the guidance of a mother or father. These poems at once bear anguish, joy, vulnerability, and compassion, while also exploring the many facets of violence: how it persists within us, how it is inherited across generations, and how it manifests itself in our relationships. In experimental forms and language both lyrical and raw, Asghar seamlessly braids together marginalized people's histories with her own understanding of identity, place, and belonging.


Rating: 3.9 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: How do you face your fears when everything is terrifying?


Fifteen-year-old Brynn can't stop thinking about death. Her intrusive thoughts and severe anxiety leave her feeling helpless--and hopeless. So after her mom interprets one of Brynn's blog posts as a suicide note, she takes extreme measures, confiscating Brynn's phone, blocking her Internet access, and banishing her to stay with her father who lives "off the grid" on a houseboat in the Florida mangroves. Isolated from her online friends--her only friends--Brynn resigns herself to a summer of mind-numbing boredom and loneliness... until Skylar appears.


Skylar is everything Brynn isn't--sultry, athletic, and confident. Yet Brynn feels at home around this fearless girl who pushes her to try new things and makes her belly flutter with nerves that have nothing to do with anxiety. When Brynn discovers that Skylar is trapped in the bayou and can't tell her why, she resolves to free her new crush from the dark waters, even if it means confronting all of her worst fears.


Through Brynn's funny, awkward, and sincere narration, The Immeasurable Depth of You explores the ways mental illness can impact a life by centering a character who is learning (sometimes messily) to accept all parts of herself.



Rating: 4 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions--affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Synopsis: "Can I kiss you?" It was two months before the world premiere of Juno, and Elliot Page was in his first ever queer bar. The hot summer air hung heavy around him as he looked at her. And then it happened. In front of everyone. A previously unfathomable experience. Here he was on the precipice of discovering himself as a queer person, as a trans person. Getting closer to his desires, his dreams, himself, without the repression he'd carried for so long. But for Elliot, two steps forward had always come with one step back.


With Juno's massive success, Elliot became one of the world's most beloved actors. His dreams were coming true, but the pressure to perform suffocated him. He was forced to play the part of the glossy young starlet, a role that made his skin crawl, on and off set. The career that had been an escape out of his reality and into a world of imagination was suddenly a nightmare.


As he navigated criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a past that snapped at his heels, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, Elliot often stayed silent, unsure of what to do. Until enough was enough.



Rating: 4 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: As a disgraced member of a fallen house, Cassandra Gataki has seen firsthand what comes from trusting the venomous Thirteen. But when the maddeningly gorgeous and kind Apollo asks her to go undercover as his plus-one at a week-long party hosted by a dangerous new power player...Cassandra reluctantly agrees to have his back.

On one condition: when it's all over, and Apollo has the ammunition he needs to protect Olympus, she and her sister will be allowed to leave. For good.

Apollo may be the city's official spymaster, but it's his ability to inspire others that keeps him at the top. Despite what the rest of Olympus says, there's no one he trusts more than Cassandra. Yet even as their fake relationship takes a wicked turn for the scaldingly hot, a very real danger surfaces... threatening not only Cassandra and Apollo, but the very heart of Olympus itself.


Rating: 4 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: He has a heart of ice...but for her, he'd burn the world

A diverse new adult steamy romance from Tiktok sensation and USA Today bestselling author Ana Huang.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can't escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he's forced to look after his best friend's sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.

A melt.

A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can't remember.

But despite her broken past, she's never stopped seeing the beauty in the world...including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn't want.

Her brother's best friend.

Her neighbor.

Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen-but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both...and everything they hold dear.



Rating: 4 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: After the death of my mother and her Bonded, I was relieved to find my own Bonds. I was sure everything would be okay if I had them. It wasn't. The fate of our people is in my hands and I know we're better off if I'm alone. After five years on the run, I'm caught and dragged back to face the men I ran away from. I thought I was doing the right thing. Now, I'm not so sure. North, Nox, Gryphon, Atlas, and Gabe may never forgive me but one thing is for sure. I won't ever forgive myself.







Rating: 4 /5 Stars


Synopsis: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.


Rating: 4 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: The amazing novel that introduced Nick and Charlie from HEARTSTOPPER -- and the unforgettable Tori Spring.


Tori Spring isn't sure how to be happy again. Then she meets Michael Holden, and they try to unmask the mysterious Solitaire (and survive high school) in Alice Oseman's stunning, unflinchinghonest debut novel, which first introduced her fan-favorite Heartstopper characters Nick and Charlie.





Rating: 4.1 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.


After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.


To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish--into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.


Rating: 4.1 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: Iris DuPree meets August West in a sports bar during her last semester of college. It's the conversation of a lifetime and sends sparks flying in every direction. The connection is undeniable...but the timing is all wrong. August is poised for the NBA draft, and Iris belongs to another man--basketball's "golden boy" and August's long-time rival.

The two go their separate ways, but they often recall that electric night and what could have been. While August has embarked on his all-star life, studded with wealth and fame, Iris's perfect public relationship has become a nightmare behind closed doors. A tarnished dream of fool's gold.

When August re-enters her life, the world seems briefly bright again, but Iris's darkest nights are not over yet. To survive, she must build her own strength and trust that her bond with August can endure after all this time.

Even when her fraudulent prince has vowed never to let her go.


Rating: 4.2 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child's favorite ice princess.


By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes.


But when Gideon Green - her best friend's brother - moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.


Untethered, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one, inspired by the pages of American Psycho. Step aside Patrick Bateman, it's Maeve's turn with the knife.



Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: The war is over.

The war has just begun.

Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix--the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.

Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin's homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.

But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix's deadly power once more.

Because there is nothing Rin won't sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.



Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland--the infamous Queen of Hearts--she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.


Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.


Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.



Rating: 5 / 5 Stars


Synopsis: The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather's house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.


Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather's room. She opens it--and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea's demise, but success could make her dreams come true.


In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City--and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.


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