“All right… I suppose things like this usually start with an apology of some sort.”First line in A Choir of Lies by Alexandra Rowland
August. On one hand, it felt like a long month but on the other, it was also gone in the blink of an eye. I had my summer vacation from work and while that was totally awesome, the lack of my usual routines also messed with my sense of time. But not working for three weeks was great! I went to Stockholm by myself which was a little intimidating but it is such a beautiful city. There is so much nature very close by that isn’t just your standard city park which I feel is kind of rare for big cities, in Europe at least. Unfortunately, I did not meet the entire cast of Young Royals while I was there (I got some rude French people instead), but I would still call it a great trip!
So how did it affect my reading that I had three weeks off?
Yeah, I spent a lot of time on trains in August so I read quite a bit. And the rating is really good too! I didn’t have anything below three stars this month and there were even two five stars! So I’d call August a very good month. And a rare one because it’s not often that I read more YA than Adult.
I will not be reviewing one of the seven books as that is Himmelsendt by Anne Christine Eriksen, a book that only exists in Danish, but I gave it three stars. But that still leaves six mini reviews so enjoy!
The Darkness Outside Us
Author: Eliot Schrefer
Published: June 1st, 2021
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Buzzwords: …I probably shouldn’t give any.
Synopsis: After the first settler on Titan trips her distress signal, neither remaining country on Earth can afford to scramble a rescue of its own, and so two sworn enemies are installed in the same spaceship.
Ambrose wakes up on the Coordinated Endeavor, with no memory of a launch. There’s more that doesn’t add up: Evidence indicates strangers have been on board, the ship’s operating system is voiced by his mother, and his handsome, brooding shipmate has barricaded himself away. But nothing will stop Ambrose from making his mission succeed—not when he’s rescuing his own sister.
In order to survive the ship’s secrets, Ambrose and Kodiak will need to work together and learn to trust one another… especially once they discover what they are truly up against. Love might be the only way to survive.
Mind. Blown. And I can’t tell you why! I’m just in awe. What a plot twist! All I can say is that the synopsis and maybe even the cover will probably lead you to think that you know what kind of book this is. You don’t. What the book actually is, is one of the most ambitious YA books I’ve ever come across, and I need people to take a chance on this despite my very vague review. I’ve definitely found two new favorite characters in Ambrose and Kodiak who are now going to live in my heart forever.
A Choir of Lies (A Conspiracy of Truths #2)
Author: Alexandra Rowland
Published: September 10th, 2019
I’m officially a fan of Alexandra Rowland! This whole book is just an experience, a very unique experience, that you really shouldn’t know much about before reading. It’s a love letter to storytelling that also deals with depression in great detail. And all in a fantasy setting. What more do you want? It had me laughing, despairing and grinning like an idiot, so I just need more people to realize these books exist.
Do I need to put a content warning for footnotes? Because they’re there. I don’t think I’ve ever read a work of fiction that incorporated footnotes and I was annoyed at first, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s not just a gimmick but something essential to the story Rowland wants to tell. I don’t want to say that I’m a sucker for footnotes now, but when they’re used in this very particular way, I adore them!
Clap When You Land
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Published: May 5th, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary
Buzzwords: Grief, family, Dominican Republic
Synopsis: Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
This is a book I read for my experiment with zodiac sign recommendations, and it’s a book I wouldn’t otherwise have read. It’s not my thing and reading it only confirmed that. There’s nothing wrong with it other than it could have been a little longer if you ask me. It’s a book with a lot of grief and complicated emotions so I do wish the author had delved into them a little further and let the characters have these feelings for a longer period of time.
I also listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author which I thought was a good sign, but I think this is the first time I’ve experienced the narrator not working out for me. The tone was very dramatic and forceful, and so far from what it would have sounded like in my head if I’d read it physically.
Acevedo clearly had a story she wanted to tell with this book and I can appreciate it for that, but I don’t care for such a strong theme of family and sisterhood in the books I read. I find it very boring and so this is probably going to be a rather forgetful reading experience.
In Deeper Waters
Author: F. T. Lukens
Published: April 20th, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: Queer romance, prince going on a coming-of-age tour, magical abilities
Synopsis: Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.
Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.
That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
Well, I wanted something cute and fun to read while on vacation and that’s what I got. Nothing more though. It had a plot twist early on that took me by surprise, but other than that, it didn’t really manage to make me invested in what was going on. The romance was cute and the writing was fine, but the plot wasn’t great. I think the author wanted to include too many elements that then ended up not really having relevance and were underdeveloped. But based on the cover, it’s not the kind of book you pick up for its intricate plot, so generally, I thought the book was fine and it served its purpose. I’m just going to have forgotten everything about it in two months.
These Violent Delights
Author: Micah Nemerever
Published: September 15th, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction
Buzzwords: Unlikeable characters, dark academia (ish), dark, so dark
Synopsis: When Paul and Julian meet as university freshmen in early 1970s Pittsburgh, they are immediately drawn to one another. A talented artist, Paul is sensitive and agonizingly insecure, incomprehensible to his working-class family, and desolate with grief over his father’s recent death.
Paul sees the wealthy, effortlessly charming Julian as his sole intellectual equal—an ally against the conventional world he finds so suffocating. He idolizes his friend for his magnetic confidence. But as charismatic as he can choose to be, Julian is also volatile and capriciously cruel. And admiration isn’t the same as trust.
As their friendship spirals into an all-consuming intimacy, Paul is desperate to protect their precarious bond, even as it becomes clear that pressures from the outside world are nothing compared with the brutality they are capable of inflicting on one another. Separation is out of the question. But as their orbit compresses and their grip on one another tightens, they are drawn to an act of irrevocable violence that will force the young men to confront a shattering truth at the core of their relationship.
I have no idea what I think of this book. I’m so confused. I never felt like I completely understood it and what it wanted to tell, and I can’t say if that’s the fault of the book or if I’m just being stupid. I might just be stupid.
It was especially hard for me to get a grasp of the two main characters, Paul and Julian. Nothing about their characterization is really spelled out so it’s all about reading between the lines and I also felt that I was doing that, but I was still constantly adjusting my perception of them and at the end, I was still not completely sure what their motivations were or which roles they played in each other lives. All I know is that they have a very toxic relationship and despite how confused I was, I think that aspect was what kept me intrigued. Because I still felt that I liked this book. The writing is quite good but also reflects the pretentiousness and introspection of the characters which I can see deter some readers. I think the writing needs to be pretentious and I don’t think the book would have worked if it wasn’t.
Did that make any sense? Like I said, I’m so confused about what to think of this book that writing a proper review feels impossible. I’m going to read other people’s reviews and maybe that’ll help me understand what I just read.
Project Hail Mary
Author: Andy Weir
Published: May 4th, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Buzzwords: Manned space travel, impending apocalypse
Synopsis: A lone astronaut.
An impossible mission.
An ally he never imagined.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.
Or does he?
It’s difficult to talk about this book because it would be so easy to spoil an early plot twist. What I can say, though, is that it’s very unlike any sci-fi I’ve read before and that kept me intrigued for most of it. I did not care for the ending, though. At all.
I’ve read The Martian, also by Andy Weir, so I was prepared for the style which is very sciencey and therefore, not necessarily for me. I kind of just zone out for those parts and wait for the character to tell me the conclusion, which is the only thing I need to know anyway, but while The Martian had so much more than the science including a lot of humor, Project Hail Mary did not have much other than science. I was just a little bored. If Weir had been better at writing the emotions of his characters, I would have paid more attention. He is not far from just writing “Character is sad” and then moving on. We definitely don’t go into something more nuanced which, based on the situation in the book I can’t talk about, would have been highly appropriate and would have made the book so much more interesting to me. Instead, I’m just left with a feeling of a book that is fine because I can’t find any major flaws in it.
I’m not picking a favorite book this month because it’s physically impossible for me to pick between The Darkness Outside Us and A Choir of Lies (nevermind that I’m going to have to make that decision at the end of the year for my Top Ten anyway), so tell me yours instead!
Anyway, I’m back to work again so I don’t expect to read equally as much in September, but then again, I’m experimenting some more with audiobooks while at work so maybe I’ll still reach those 3,000 pages. I’m kinda of intrigued to see what listening to audiobooks does to my reading stats every month, not gonna lie.
But I hope you had a great August and happy reading in September!