August was my best reading month of the year so far. It feels like I’m saying that every month recently which is a great thing because it means that I’m reading more. I think part of that is due to me *almost* being done with my dissertation. As of right now, I’ve got 23,000 words which is insane. I’ve only got a few minor edits left to make so I no longer have to devote a whole day to it anymore (thank goodness for that!).
I’ve spent a lot of my free time with a book in my hand and I feel like I’m finally getting back into reading for fun again. It’s taken a long time but I’m happy that I can pick up a book without an intense feeling of guilt or dread washing over me. My only issue now is deciding what to read – but when isn’t that a problem?
Here’s everything that I read….
This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
Misa Sugiura is back with another smartly drawn coming-of-age novel that weaves riveting family drama, surprising humor, and delightful romance into a story that will draw you in from the very first page.
Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.
She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.
Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.
It took me a while to get through this book, but ultimately, it’s the one that helped me back get into reading for fun again. The characters are the best part about this book, they felt real and three dimensional, and most importantly, I felt like I could connect with them. They were flawed, but in the most realistic ways possible. And from the very first page, to the very last page, it’s clear that each character went on their own individual journey, growing as people along the way.
This book is important for so many different reasons; it has a Japanese/American protagonist (CJ who I absolutely adore), centres upon racism, touches upon abortion, financial issues, and sexuality. All of it was done beautifully in a way that I think everyone can connect to.
The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes
The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.
Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.
But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.
After being in such a great mood after finishing This Time Will Be Different, I wanted to continue on with something that I thought I would love. I picked up The Black Coats after being so excited about it for the longest time.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t one that I loved, and it wasn’t one that I enjoyed reading. The concept of it was amazing, the idea of avenging women who have been murdered, abused, assaulted, or raped. It sounded like a really promising book that I was sure would become a firm favourite that I’d be recommending to everyone.
My main issue with this was the writing style, and the characters. The writing felt very dull and basic. It didn’t grip me at all or make me want to continue reading. And the characters didn’t feel real at all, the conversations they had felt very unnatural, and most of the time, I found myself cringing whilst they were talking.
The synopsis for this one gave me such high hopes, but sadly, it wasn’t one that I liked.
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone & The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason … HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!
I don’t really need to talk much about these books because they’re Harry Potter (and who doesn’t love them?!) I’ve been going back and forth about re-reading this series for the longest time. It seems like every year I get this strong need to be back in the wizarding world, and this year, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. It’s just as magical as the first time I read it!
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.
I wanted to read books in between the Harry Potter re-read so that I didn’t neglect the rest of my TBR. I had no idea what book to read, so I just kind of closed my eyes and picked a random book of the shelf… and that happened to be Starfish.
I’d been meaning to read it for the longest time so I was really happy that out of all of my books, this was the one I picked. I featured this in my Friday Favourites post where I rambled/raved about it, so if you’re interested in seeing more of my thoughts on it, click here!
My challenge for the month of August was to read a book that takes place in summer. Looking at the books that I read, I was definitely succesful! I’m pretty sure that Starfish takes place in the summer, and obviously there are bits in the Harry Potter novels that are during the summer months!
Moving on to September… For me, this month is all about Autumn. It’s when you really notice a difference with the weather turning colder and the darker mornings and evenings. It’s a little bit abstract, but I want to read a book that makes me feel warm and cosy. Now, I’m sure there are plenty books out there that will do exactly that – but I won’t know until I’ve read them. Maybe I’ll just have to pick up loads of different contemporaries?