Hello everyone! Another month has gone by – seriously, how tf is time flying by so fast – which means that we are here with another monthly wrap up post. The end of August means that here in Hungary we are finally heading into autumn, which I’m actually really looking forward to this year. The summer was filled with heatwave after heatwave and it’s good to know that that’s over for now. 🥳
Before we jump into the post, let us share some important links with you:
- The sacred Pololū Valley is under threat due to a proposal to build a subdivision along the ridge. Here is a petition you can sign to help and a video with some more information (particularly in the comments, rather than the video itself).
- In June, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law that bans the ‘portrayal or promotion’ of homosexuality or gender reassignment. You can learn more about the Hungarian government’s systematic oppression LGBTQ+ people here. If you can afford to, you can also donate to Háttér Society, an LGBTQ+ organization operating in Hungary.
- The Legacy of Hope Foundation, which is “a national, Indigenous-led, charitable organization that has been working to promote healing and Reconciliation in Canada for more than 19 years.”
- The Indian Residential School Survivor Society who “strive to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for Survivors, Families, and Communities.”
- Decolonize Palestine is “a collection of resources for organizers and anyone who wants to learn more about Palestine.”
What We Did
You possibly don’t know/remember this, but last month I said in this part of the Wrap Up that my dead snake plant had come back to life. Well, I got it mixed up – it was actually my spider plant. Also, I’m pretty sure it has died again anyway. And to be honest, that’s pretty symbolic of my August, lol, so please skip this bit of mine if you’re not up for negativity today.
Another thing you also may not remember from last month is the mention that I was getting out of my state’s fifth lockdown. The very day the state premier announced that we had reached zero cases, they discovered another outbreak and we went straight back into lockdown, so we’re on number six now 🙂 🙂 🙂 I don’t have any idea when this one is going to end because the cases just keep going up. Of course, it could be much worse.
I’ve also been experiencing a lot of headaches and migraines this month – it’s not unusual for me to get them, but the frequency has definitely increased in August. I had a significantly bad headache that took me out for a few days, but it was such a relief when it was over. The migraines are more annoying than anything else – my headaches associated with them aren’t usually that painful, but my eyesight gets all weird and my ears ring and that makes it difficult to do anything, especially read, which is my main activity in lockdown, as you may have guessed, lol. Even as I’m writing this, I can tell that my eyes aren’t back to normal from the last one which was yesterday.
One good thing is that my mum got her second dose of the vaccine (though she had some significant side effects for several days – fever, aches and pains etc.), and that eligibility for Pfizer has opened for my age group, so I should be able to get that soon.
August flew by incredibly fast. I started at my first job on July 26, which was nerve-wrecking to say the least. Thankfully, I started alongside two other people, so I’m not the only newbie who is struggling to understand certain things. 😅 Technically, we are still in training, but because someone received a lot of work we were pulled into a project to help out. It’s been daunting to jump from training to real work so suddenly when that wasn’t what we were expecting, but we were given help and have also been supporting each other. So all in all, while the job isn’t perfect at all – but then again, is there such a thing? – it’s been alright so far.
Besides the job, the first half of August wasn’t busy. I was planning on going on a hike with a friend but we had to cancel due to the heat, as neither of us was looking forward to hiking in 34°C (=93.2°F). I was also hoping to meet with another friend, but she and her family didn’t have a good month, so we haven’t been able to meet yet. (Maybe you all could send some good vibes their way?) Towards the middle of the month, I visited one of my friends on her birthday and at the end of the month I went shopping with another friend. I bought a really gorgeous black coat, perfect for autumn, so I’m excited to wear that when the colder weather comes. 😊 Finally, in the online sphere I managed to catch up with Ruzi, our old co-blogger, on skype and I also talked multiple times with one of my closest friends who currently lives relatively far away. (To be fair, the latter is normal – we either skype or watch a movie on most weekends.)
I’m excited for September for a few reasons! My mom’s birthday is in September, I’m planning on another shopping trip, a trip to the zoo, a trip to an aquarium, and I’ll be going to the cinema at least once. (I have two films I want to watch, but not sure I’ll have the time for both.) Oh, and we’ve also rescheduled the hiking trip we had to cancel in August. At the same time, September will mark the end of my training, which means that I’ll finally be working on my own stuff for real. Wish me luck! 😊
What We Read
I feel like I’ve picked up a million books this month! I struggled with a lot of them early on, so to be fair, I didn’t end up finishing a lot of them. Some I decided to DNF and a couple I have put on hold for another time. I’m also in the middle of a few that I’ve not yet finished, so that adds to that feeling too! Regardless of that, let me tell you about some of the books I did actually finish reading:
WHEN THE TIGER CAME DOWN THE MOUNTAIN is the sequel to The Empress of Salt and Fortune, and I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it a lot more than the first book! The way the stories were structured worked super well for me this time and I found it really clever. You can read this book without having read the first one, though I do still suggest it. (4.25 stars)
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY caused me a lot of mixed feelings and opinions. I would definitely not recommend this for anyone struggling with mental health – it’s quite confronting when it comes to suicide and depression and in my opinion, is no where near nuanced enough. I still thought it was written well and the fast pace kept me interested the entire time. And some parts of it were actually pretty fun if you take away the emotional context, lol. (3 stars)
EXHALATION was another that caused mixed feelings! I was so intrigued by many of the short stories in this collection, but I hated the longest one! Additionally, the last book in the collection was my favourite, and that was fairly long as well. So I still recommend this book, especially if you like weird sci-fi concepts. (3.25 stars)
WRITTEN IN THE STARS ended up being a long awaited turning point in my reading month – I loved it! The romance was so well developed and had some truly adorable moments. I also loved the inclusion of the complexities of the main characters’ lives outside of their romance – the family dynamics in particular were so well done. (4 stars)
A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN, I’m sorry to say, really disappointed me. I loved Grey in the first book of this series, and I was so excited when I heard he had POV chapters in this one, but I wasn’t expecting that it would come at the expense of other perspectives, which I sorely missed. Even the synopsis is misleading about this. I did like the way it wrapped up though, so I’m hoping I’ll like the third and final book better. (2.75 stars)
SPIN THE DAWN was another highlight of the month. I loved the writing style of this and the main two characters. I do have to say though, that while I liked the romance in the first half of the book, my opinion did a 180 in the second half. My favourite part of the book was how the plot structure was so unexpected to me – I loved the way it was done. Super excited to read the second book. (4.25 stars)
A TASTE FOR LOVE is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a long time, and I enjoyed a lot of it – particularly the descriptions of food and the baking competition! Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that the character development was very strong and it relied heavily on the reader being familiar with Pride and Prejudice – the story on which this book is based. Still, it was a fun read. (3 stars)
August was a pretty solid reading month. I managed to read 15 books, which I’m very happy with considering that I now work full time. I really thought that would screw up my reading, so I’m glad that’s not the case. In terms of quality I also had a solid month, as my average rating for the month was 3.9. My issue is that I read less five star books than usual; most of the books I read ended up being solid four star reads, which isn’t bad, but I expected better from some of these. I’m in a lazy mood, so I’ll only share the highlights of this month… ranked from worst to best.
CONVENTIONALLY YOURS was a super-cute, fast-paced adult / new adult contemporary romance novel that, frankly, I don’t think I’ll remember extremely clearly in a couple of months. (Good God, I’m not even in a bad mood, I’m not sure why I’m being mean.) But the important thing is that this was cute and I’d gladly recommend it to fans of (light) enemies to lovers romances. Be warned though that there is so much talk about the game the characters play, so if that isn’t your cup of tea or you can’t overlook that then Conventionally Yours probably isn’t for you. (4 stars)
BATTLE ROYAL was easily one of my most awaited novels of 2021 as I adore Lucy Parker, queen of rom-coms. Unfortunately, Battle Royal didn’t hit me quite as hard as I expected it to. Frankly, I felt like Parker tried to cover too much in this book: besides the romance, we have two royal subplots (one in the past, one in the present) and on top of that the main characters are jurors in a baking show while also competing against each other for the opportunity to bake the royal wedding cake. And I haven’t even mentioned that both have their own family issues. I always feel like Lucy Parker is incredible at balancing the romance with other things, but I don’t think that was the case here. Sometimes less is more. (4 stars)
XOXO: Do I listen to K-Pop? No. Was I excited for this K-Pop contemporary romance despite that? Hell yes. I’ve heard so many good things about XOXO and I have to say, you guys weren’t lying. I found the romance adorable, but I also loved the focus on our heroine, her family, her future as well as her budding friendships at her new school. All in all, XOXO was close to being a five star read and is an adorable novel. Highly recommended. (4 stars)
LAST GUARD: I doubt anyone that knows me is surprised by the fact that the newest Psy-Changeling novel ended up close to the top of my August reads, as I adore this series. I had such fun reading this novel! I know a lot of fans prefer Psy-Changeling romances to Psy-Psy romances, but some of my favorites in the series are Psy-Psy romances so I can’t say I agree. As per usual, Nalini sold me on this romance basically at the get go and she made me fall in love with all the characters, old and new alike. (5 stars)
CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD was the surprise favorite of the month. I adored this novel from start to finish – it was captivating and tense, and best of all, the stakes felt really high all through. I’m not a fan of the slasher genre, so I had my doubts about this novel, but ultimately I cannot recommend it enough and I’ll be back with a review of it one of these days so I can try to push it at more people. Yes, it was that good. Read it. (5 stars)
What We Watched
I ended up watching a lot of stuff again this month! My favourite was BAKE SQUAD on Netflix – I was surprised by how much I adored it! It features a team of four experienced dessert bakers that engage in friendly competition each episode to see who can make the dessert best suited to different special occasions. I loved all the bakers and they way they helped each other out every episode 🥺
My other favourite was MIRACLE WORKERS -but only season one, lol. We watched a couple episodes of season two and it is just not on the same level at all – we most likely won’t be continuing with that. The first season is about Heaven, interpreted as an office workspace, and a few angels that are trying to stop God from destroying the world. It was so funny and playful and I thought the actors were all really great choices too.
THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER has been a bit of a disappointment to me – having loved Wandavision I was really hoping this series would be a bit more interesting than it is. We still have one episode left to watch, but I can’t imagine it changing my opinion all that much. We would watch episodes of this in between Miracle Workers, and while the latter episodes felt like they passed in the blink of an eye, TFATWS episodes had a tendency to drag on forever!
As for movies, my least favourite was easily THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (OR HOW I FLEW FROM LONDON TO PARIS IN 25 HOURS 11 MINUTES). After enjoying The Great Race last month, I heard it compared a lot to this movie, so of course I had to give it a go. Unfortunately, it was one of the most boring movies I have ever seen in my life 🙃
BLACK WIDOW and JUNGLE CRUISE were both okay – the former was also unfortunately tainted for me by the feeling that it should have been made years ago. Both movies were good enough, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to watch them again.
I also watched LEGALLY BLONDE 2: RED, WHITE AND BLONDE for the first time and was surprised to find that, in my opinion, it was a simultaneously good and bad movie, lol. There were some parts that had me laughing and an equal number that had me cringing.
My favourite movie of the month – and not by much – was HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD. To be honest, it was a bit too vulgar for me overall, lol, but it had some very funny moments. I can’t say this was a great movie, but it was entertaining.
I haven’t watched a lot of films in August, and sadly, none of the films were as good as I hoped they would be. As I expected, DUMBO was pretty mediocre. I’m no expert on animation, but the elephants looked a bit… strange and jarring. SOUL was my favorite out of the three films I watched last month – I loved the characters and found the concept really interesting. Finally, TOY STORY 4 was pretty good too – the same quality I expect from this franchise / series.
Posts We Loved
Recommendations and discussions:
- Caro @ Bookchesire Cat shared her thoughts after rereading the Vampire Academy series.
- Emily @ Paperback Princess discussed her issues with dark academia.
- Maria @ The Character Study discussed her favorite quotes and recommended 8 sapphic adult books.
- Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books recommended 10 YA books without romance.
- Morgan @ Morgan Is Reading Again discussed eir experience with social media.
- Sophie @ Me and Ink did The Flower Book Tag, which was originally created by us.
- Caro @ Book Chesirecat reviewed Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells.
- Destiny @ Howling Libraries reviewed The Strange Thing We Become by Eric LaRocca.
- Kal @ Reader Voracious reviewed Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw.
- Malka @ Paper Procrastinators reviewed The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang.
- Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books reviewed Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
- Nick @ The Infinite Limits of Love reviewed Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas and Battle Royale by Lucy Parker.
How was your August? Have you done / read / watched anything you want to share? Are you excited for September?