It’s been a busy month, what with finishing off my summer program, moving away from New York City, and trying to fit in plenty of reading. The end of my program was just as insanely busy as the beginning, but in the end I felt really proud of what I had accomplished. And I was able to get an extra week in the city after the program ended to do all the tourist things that I didn’t have time for sooner!
I finally saw the Statue of Liberty, visited the Public Library, wandered around a lot, and also happened to meet this handsome man named Matt Bomer!
And with that, my two months in New York came to an end.
I didn’t have much time for blogging during those months, but I’ve been trying to hop back in now that I have a little more free time. It helps that I’ve read some really incredible books this month that I can’t wait to talk about!
Books I read this month
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan ★★★/5
I decided to read this one because the movie is coming out soon and it looked interesting. Rachel, the main character, realizes when she visits her boyfriend’s family home in Singapore that she’s dating one of the most eligible bachelors in Asia, which puts her way over her head among some of the world’s richest socialites. While I did generally enjoy the plot and characters, and the glimpse into Singapore’s lavish high society was certainly fascinating, the writing wasn’t great. It wasn’t evoking the emotions in me that I think it was aiming for. Plus, I felt like the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly. I still found myself invested in Rachel and Nick’s story, and I think I’ll go see the movie if I get the chance!
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir ★★★/5
I was eager to continue this series after reading An Ember in the Ashes in May, especially since the third book came out in June. A Torch Against the Night picks up right where the first book left off, leading into a fast-paced escape and treacherous journey with alternating perspectives between Elias, Laia, and Helene. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as invested in the story as I was in Ember, and I don’t know what the difference is. It was certainly exciting and fast moving, with plenty of character development – especially in Helene, who I still think is one of the most interesting characters in the series – and some plot twists that I did not see coming. But it also leaned on some tropes that I’m not fond of, and I just couldn’t fall into the story as easily as I did the first time. I still want to read the rest of the series, though, so hopefully I’ll have more luck with the next book!
Fresh Ink: an anthology edited by Lamar Giles ★★★★/5
(ARC received at BookExpo. Release date is Aug. 14.)
The focus of this anthology is presenting stories of people and identities that are not usually represented, which is certainly a mission I can support. All of these stories were quite short – I don’t think any of them were more than fifteen pages – and had open endings, which made it easy to fly through them. Most of them I liked a lot, a few were just fine, and none of them were terrible (yay!). My favorites were probably the last two: a story by Schuyler Bailar about a transgender swimmer, and Nicola Yoon’s story about an ordinary human trying to prevent a former superhero from destroying humanity.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake ★★★★/5
I hope to have a review of this up soon! This story follows three sisters, triplets who have been raised separately and trained to kill each other so one of them can be queen. I didn’t know I needed a dark high fantasy like this in my life until I read it, and now I’m really glad that I did because it was the perfect amount of horrifying and fascinating. It did move a little slowly, but I got quite invested in the characters and intertwining plotlines. More thoughts to come soon!
(Update: review is now posted!)
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken ★★★★.5/5
I have a full review here outlining all of my thoughts. In a not-so-distant future where children are locked up for the powers they develop after a devastating illness, the main character Ruby escapes and goes on the run with a few others, hoping to find a more peaceful future. I really, really enjoyed this book from start to finish. The characters are incredible and feel so real (I would protect Liam with my life), and the ending had me screaming at the pages. I’m so excited to see the movie, which comes out this week!
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth ★★★★★
This story follows Cameron, growing up gay in 1990s Montana, as she grieves her parents’ deaths, navigates relationships, and later is sent to conversion camp. It’s very character-focused, slow-moving and meandering, and it also tore my heart into pieces. Cameron was such a well developed character and I was so much in her head that I felt everything she felt. And the writing is breathtaking. I want to have a review of this up soon as well because I have Many Thoughts.
Dear Evan Hansen: the novel by Val Emmich ★★★★★
(ARC received at BookExpo. Release date is Oct. 9.)
The novelization of the musical Dear Evan Hansen follows the exact same story: a friendless high schooler named Evan gets caught up in a lie regarding a classmate who committed suicide. My full ARC review is posted, but the long and short of it is that this book told a story that I already loved and made me appreciate it in a whole new way. I fell in love with the characters all over again and some of them (especially Connor) became even more fleshed out. So please go buy this book when it comes out in October!
The Dear Evan Hansen adventure
I touched on this earlier in the month in my Dear Evan Hansen review, but there have been new developments! As I previously talked about, I was lucky enough to see the show on Broadway a few days after reading the book, which was just about all my dreams come true. After that show, I was able to get a few of the cast members to sign my copy of the book. Then, about a week later, I went back to the stage door after a different show and got the rest of the cast to sign it! Which, yes, includes Taylor Trensch, aka Evan Hansen himself, aka the sweetest human being I’ve met. It also included Laura Dreyfuss, the original Zoe Murphy, on one of her last nights on the show! I still can’t believe that I have a copy of this book signed by the whole cast. I’m never letting anyone borrow it ever again.
My 21st birthday
July means many things, possibly the most important of which is my birthday! This year was a big number: 21! And no, despite being in New York City, I didn’t have a wild birthday extravaganza. It was a really fun and chill day, and it also happened to be the day that I saw Dear Evan Hansen. I wouldn’t have traded that day for any other.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
One of my favorite feel-good movies got its sequel this month, and of course I had to go see it! I was absolutely not disappointed, despite having astronomically high expectations. It made me so incredibly happy, exactly as I hoped it would! Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with a bunch of celebrities singing ABBA and being goofy on a random Greek island. But more than that, I thought it was a genuinely good story that honored the first one while adding so much to it. Plus, the Dancing Queen scene might actually rival the one in the first movie, which is something I never thought I’d say. This is definitely going to be a movie I come back to and watch over and over when I need a pick-me-up.
Hitting my Goodreads goal
I’d say I’m doing pretty well when I finish my Goodreads goal with five months left in the year! The last book I read this month, A Torch Against the Night brought me to my goal. And last year I read 80 books, so I don’t think I’ll have much trouble beating that. Not sure yet what my new goal is going to be, but for now it feels good to have that complete!
I have a lot of books to get through in August! Hopefully I’ll get to all of them!
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- Nothing Happened by Molly Booth
- Spinning by Tillie Walden
- That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger (ARC from BookExpo)
- Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
- Solitaire by Alice Oseman
- The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
- Imposters by Scott Westerfeld (ARC from BookExpo)
How was your July? What were your favorite reads of the month? Have you seen Mamma Mia 2 yet??