Hello friends! Look at us, we’ve conquered another month of this dreadful year. (Not that I think 2021 is going to bring us better things, but you know, we do have to look forward to something, right?) From this point, we’ll choose one world issue to highlight in each monthly wrap up and we ask you to check out the resources we link, educate yourself, and help if you’re able to. I’ve seen bloggers do the same thing – i.e. concentrate on one issue – and I think it’s ultimately more helpful than linking to a big list of issues every month like we did before.
This month, we felt it important to talk about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. If you click on this link, you’ll find information about the crisis in Yemen as well as multiple ways you can help, including things you can do for free. We urge our friends in the US and UK to scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can find a script and an email draft you can use to reach out to your representatives and Parliament to cease the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. and to lend humanitarian support which would help decrease the death of Yemeni civilians.
As per usual, in today’s wrap up we’ll talk about what we did, watched, and read during the month of August. But, unfortunately, we’ve also brought you a message/goodbye from our third co-blogger, Ruzi. To get the sad part of the post out of the way, we’ll start with that today.
Ruzi’s Message To Everyone
Heyyyyy, all! Ruzaika here. This is no doubt the weirdest I’ve ever felt while sitting down to write a blog post, and no wonder because this is both a) one I’m writing after a fairly long time, and b) quite possibly the last one I will be writing…till for ever. Yup. Me and the blog? We’ve grown apart.
I doubt if most of you even know me in here anymore since I’ve hardly been around and our readership has grown so much thanks to Vera and Sabrina, but I first joined hands with Vera in mid-2015 and have been through all the blog-related changes big and small with her since then. This has by no means been an easy decision to make, but I really am finding it difficult to make time for much else since I started working.
I have hardly been reading (if at all!) and blogging, not just the sitting-down-and-writing bit of it but also the blog-hopping and commenting part of it…let’s face it, it’s both time and energy-consuming and god knows I’m always running short of both. And to be very, very honest, it’s been quite a while since I found blogging fun. I realized that I’ve found myself enjoying books significantly lesser since I started reviewing them, and I really need to fall in love with reading again! I tend to turn to Netflix and even podcasts lately much more than I do to books, and frankly, I miss my reading days.
I have given myself more than enough excuses and Vera has been so patient with my all throughout, but sticking around in here doesn’t make sense anymore and so I somehow actually came to terms with it. I’ve spent literal months lying to myself (and others too tbh) that I was taking a “small break from blogging, I’ll be back soon”, which eventually evolved into an “indefinite break, but I’ll be back soon-ish” (I’m looking at you, Roberta!) and then a couple of weeks back I realized it really ain’t happening anytime soon, and I was only making things harder for myself…so, yeah. I decided to rip off the proverbial band-aid just like that. I used to feel SUPER apprehensive about abandoning Vera, but things have turned out really well with Sabrina helming things in here too, so I guess I finally feel I can leave our blog-baby in good hands!
There’s so much more I want to talk about how I’ve enjoyed finding a place for myself and myself in the process while being part of the bookish community, but I don’t really want to take up much time because I just might start bawling my eyes out, so…bye, I guess? Always so grateful for all the friends and memories I made in here! Take care and stay safe, everyone. xx
🎵 Long live all the magic we made 🎵
What We Did
As you might expect, I have been doing almost nothing again. Since our last wrap up, my state has been put under further restrictions, including an 8pm curfew despite the fact that we’re not supposed to be leaving our houses anyway. We have been seeing an increase in deaths. My great-grandmother that I mentioned last month has tested positive – the latest update is that she is improving, and I hope that is, and continues to be, the case. The only bright side is that finally new case numbers are decreasing most days.
My mum has been struggling this month after seeing a specialist that was supposed to help her with allergic reactions she sometimes has. Unfortunately the testing process involves purposefully inducing these allergic reactions and heavily restricting her diet, so it has not been a fun time. The specialist also, in my humble opinion, is not good at their job, having had to test Mum twice for several allergens because they didn’t take an accurate record the first time. If you have any effective home remedies to relieve itchiness and burning from hives, please let me know!
This month also saw Vera and I complete the bulk of Chloe Ting’s Flat Tummy Challenge which has been a really positive experience for me! I’ve been feeling stronger and healthier. We still have a few days to go due to taking some much needed breaks, but I’m excited to do some more of her programs!
August was a rather boring month, I have to admit. Case numbers have been rising, but the government hasn’t yet made in restrictions and people are still not taking the existing rules seriously. In fact, the number of people who believe COVID-19 is a hoax has been steadily growing. 2020 is really out here making me lose all my faith in humanity, huh.
I’ve been very careful with going out, but I managed to go on long walks with one of my friends and I met up with another friend and we went on a bit of a hike. (You can see some pictures above!) I’ve really grown a fondness for walking during isolation, so this is something I’ll continue to do. I’m close to finishing Chloe Ting’s Flat Tummy program which I’ve been doing with Sabrina, and I’m planning on doing her new two week shred next.
University is starting on the 7th of September, and I’m not looking forward to it. Most of our classes are going to be online – and I’m going to be able to avoid the ones that require students to be there physically – but the idea of video chatting with 15 people per class makes me skin crawl, can’t lie about that. I had one class that required a video conference every week last semester (after unis closed), and I always spent days preparing myself for it, lmao.
What We Read
I’m afraid the slump from last month continued into August for me. I only read 7 books, which is my lowest low for this year. I also had two DNFs (and I suspect a book I am part way through right now will also become a DNF), plus my average rating this month was 3.21 – which is pretty bad for me! Here’s my thoughts on most of the books I read:
My first, and my most enjoyed, read of the month was ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas! Sadly, I couldn’t get my hands on the audio version which everyone suggested I do, but the physical copy was more than good enough. I loved reading the lyrics to Bri’s raps and imagining the sound. Bri was such an awesome main character and I loved the way the themes of the book were explored.
Next, I read my first Lucy Parker book, HEADLINERS, and it is safe to say I will be reading more from her sooner rather than later. I gave this three and a half stars, because though I did like the characters, the pacing was a bit off for me plus some of the situations they ended up in were a little too ridiculous for the tone of the book, in my opinion. Also, I haven’t read any of the other books in this series of companion novels and I do think that would have helped me enjoy this book a bit more so keep that in mind!
It may not have been my lowest rated book this month, but THE CITY OF BRASS was by far the biggest disappointment. Even writing that sentence has me feeling upset, because I truly thought I was going to fall in love with this book after hearing everyone rave about it. Sadly, it was excruciatingly slow and I never grew particularly attached to any of the characters. I’ve heard that the second book is much better so I am still considering continuing with the series – what do you think I should do?
LAURINDA by Alice Pung was not what I was expecting from the vibe of the cover, but I ended up appreciating it a whole lot. I thought this would be a fun, humorous contemporary book about the high school experience, and though it did incorporate those elements, it was much more poignant and reflective. It was also set in the nineties, which I didn’t figure out until about halfway through the book! It explored a lot of issues around race and class that we still see today, and not only in Australia. I hope you will give this book a go if you get the chance!
When I mentioned that I was hoping to read WORDS IN DEEP BLUE in a post a little while back, I got a lot of positive reactions! And though I did like the book, I had two significant problems with it that hindered my experience. One of those was with the main romance. It’s hard to say too much without going into spoiler territory (and that goes for my second issue as well), so I will just say that there was a third person involved and I didn’t like that character or how that plot line resolved. My second problem was that for almost the entirety of the novel, there is a secret hanging over everything and I hated that – especially knowing how badly it would affect one character in particular. I did like the letter library though!
I have recently heard a lot of people recommend PET by Akwaeke Emezi. It’s a short book and it was instantly available to me on Libby, so I decided to pick it up. I wasn’t blown away by the plot (which was quite straightforward), but I did really love the writing and the main character. There was also something about the relationships between most of the characters that seemed so real and wonderful. And though the plot didn’t surprise me, I did appreciate it and the points it made.
August started off bad when it came to reading, as it took me 8 days to finish my first read of the month, which is looong for me. But things got better towards the end, so that’s something at least. I read 11 books, which is not a good number for me, but I’m trying to keep in mind that (1) we’re in a pandemic which is making me extremely stressed and (2) three of the books I read were close to or over 600 pages long. My average rating for the month was 3.9 stars, which is pretty solid.
I’m feeling positive and I’ve complained enough, so here our the six books (+ a sequel) I read this month that I’d wholeheartedly recommend:
I finally got to THE POPPY WAR, and you all were right, this is an excellent high fantasy novel, especially considering that this is Kuang’s debut. I was engrossed in the story from page one and the only issue I had was that the middle part seemed to drag a bit compared to the parts before and after it. I also read THE DRAGON REPUBLIC, which I enjoyed a bit less, but I ultimately gave both novels four stars.
I was daunted by the lukewarm average rating of SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT on goodreads, but Becky‘s love for this book convinced me to prioritize it, and I’m so thankful for that! This was a soft, slow-burn romance that did a good job of addressing the power imbalance between the characters, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Generally, F/F romances don’t do nearly as well as M/M romances, so this is your periodic reminder to support F/F books!
I watched the BBC adaptation of NORTH AND SOUTH a few years ago, and I’ve been meaning to read the book ever since. Last month, I finally got to it and I’m so pleased I did, because it’s now one of my favorite classics. I love how we hold up classics as these “serious” books… but some of the most dramatic books I’ve ever read were classics… including this one. Either way, loved (nearly) every moment of this and I read it relatively fast despite its length.
With that, we’ve arrived to my top favorite novel of the month, DATE ME, BRYSON KELLER, which deserves so much more hype than it’s gotten! While it deals with serious topics, such as homophobia and being outed, it still manages to remain soft for the most part, and it feels like a big, warm hug when you finish it. Honestly, I can’t say anything bad about this book, read it!
Here we go with another romance novel I’d call extremely underrated and for no good reason. YOU HAD ME AT HOLA follows two actors who are portraying romantic leads in a new bilingual rom-com. I thought that both Jasmine and Ashton were well-developed, and I loved the emphasis the novel put on their respective families. If you like audiobooks, that would be a good route to take with this one; I think it’s excellently narrated.
I loved Mia Vincy’s debut, but because I wasn’t interested in her sophomore novel I kind of forgot about her. (Sorry!) That is, until A DANGEROUS KIND OF LADY was published, which sounded like a romance right up my alley. And it really was! I flew through this book in a few hours, and even though I ultimately rated it four stars, it was extremely close to a five star read because my enjoyment of it was super-high.
What We Watched
– I watched a fair few movies in August, the first of which was Rules Don’t Apply. I really did not like it at all, I’m afraid to say. It was so long and boring and drawn out and the characters made some ridiculous choices. There were some funny moments, but I don’t know if they were intentional, lol.
– Lavender was another that I watched and it turned out to be pretty good! It had a really creepy vibe and a couple of the twists surprised me. I really liked the main character and her little family too.
– If you asked me what my favourite Disney movie is, I would have a hard time picking just one, but Lilo & Stitch would definitely rank in the top three. I luckily got to rewatch it this month with my family, who, for the most part, also love it. No matter how many times I watch it, I find myself tearing up and falling in love with the characters all over again.
– Mulan is also pretty highly ranked for me (maybe top five Disney movies?), and I got to rewatch this as well. The whole “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” sequence makes me feel so alive.
– For TV shows, my Suits rewatch continued and I will probably finish that by the end of September. I’m up to season seven, and man, some of the plot points are really annoying me this time around, lol. I also binge-watched the entirety of Australian Survivor season two, and I loved it so much. It was really twisty and I genuinely didn’t know who was going to get voted out at each tribal council.
🤎 Firstly, Sabrina and I have been watching some movies together.. but we can’t talk about them without spoiling too much about the post we’re working on. I’m really looking forward to your reaction to our post, though. 👀 (But you’ll have to wait quite a bit for that.)
🤎 After ages of waiting, I finally watched Ocean’s Eight, and oh boy, was I disappointed. I wanted to like this so badly, because the cast is magnificent, but I ultimately felt like it was a man’s idea of what women want to see in an all female-led movie, rather than an authentic all-female movie. (That said, one of the three screenwriters is a woman, so maybe I’m being harsh.)
🤎 I watched The Old Guard, and you all, this movie was everything I wanted and more. I loved the characters so much, and the action scenes were fantastic. I watched it with a friend (both of us being online) and then I rewatched it the next day with my mom when I realized that it has Hungarian dubbing on Netflix. (Yes, that was just an excuse for me to rewatch it, sue me.) Moreover, it’s joined to the list of titles I’m reading fanfiction for.
🤎 The Hate U Give is a movie I originally wanted to see at the cinema.. but it never came to Hungarian theaters, sadly. Either way, I finally had the chance to watch it, and I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help but feel like the book is miles and miles better. Is that just me? What did you think?
🤎 After finishing North and South, I decided to rewatch the BBC’s adaptation of it, which I saw years ago. I buddy read the book with one of my friends and then we watched the show together as well, which was fun. We laughed a lot at how dramatic it was, though we obviously enjoyed the heck out of it.
Posts We Loved
- Abi @ Scribbles & Stories revealed her face and shared many things about herself.
- Amber @ Du Livre listed the things she wishes authors would know about bloggers.
- Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity discussed all the ways her blog changed.
- Emily @ Paperback Princess talked about book tok and blogging.
- Kate @ Your Tita Kate shared ways to find friends in the book blogging community.
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators shared her thoughts on discussions.
- Margaret @ Weird Zeal talked about six books that feel like a hug to her.
- Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Reads talked about why she doesn’t believe in fake engagement.
- May @ Forever and Everly reviewed The Bone Shard Daughter.
- Ruby @ Ruby Rae Reads discussed how her book reviews changed.
- Rukky @ Eternity Books asked if we should be more lenient with self-published authors and talked about her online vs. offline persona.
How was your August? Have you read/watched any of the things we mentioned? What did you think of them? Please, give a kind goodbye to Ruzi!