For the first time in I don't know how long, I read less than 10 books in a month. My average is 13 a month and even 10 is comparatively less. Hence, I'm surprised to realize that I read 6 books in August.*

Not to say that I'm disappointed in my reading. Life is busier and I'm spending some free time on other ventures (like vlogging!). It's not surprising that I read less than usual. But looking back, those 6 books felt like a lot. It's because most of them were big books.

*Well, technically I did read 5 more books but those were rereads. I recommended the Mindf*ck series to a friend and seeing her reactions made me pick them up. I flew through them in two days so I'm not counting them in this post 😂

bad feminist by roxane gay

bad feminist book cover

This book had been on my TBR for a while but Sonali's video convinced me to finally pick it up. I generally don't like short stories or essay collections so this took me a while to get through and I would have preferred it as a novel where all parts are connected.

Roxane Gay calls herself a "bad feminist" because of all that the label is associated with and how it is often contradictory or harmful to the actual intent behind the feminist movement. After an introduction explaining her stance on feminism, she delves into various topics that are linked with feminism such as gender, race, and politics. She also talks about how her life has been affected by misogyny and feminism.

It took me a long time to truly get into the book. The book doesn't flow easily and often two consecutive sections within an essay would be jarringly different. There was a long section in the beginning about Gay's experience in competitive scrabble which wasn't related to feminism at all.

The book was very clearly a collection of various pieces written and published in different places at different times. Although there is a thread of "feminism" linking most of them, they are out of order and aren't grouped together well either. Only when I read each section alone without expectations of it relating to any other parts did I actually like the book.

The author has some really good points to say and writes each section well, though. When she wants them to, her words flow together powerfully. She prods the myriad ways in which feminism is stretched to fit other agendas and yet ridiculed. I have several quotes highlighted.

However, the book didn't change anything for me. It's a good enough memoir highlighting feminism but it didn't bring forth new perspectives or stand out among other books on feminism that I've read.

jade war by fonda lee

jade war book cover

I apparently read Jade City back in February but it feels like I read it only a couple of months back. The story was quite fresh in my mind when I picked up Jade War. I was actually thrown off to find that there's a time jump between the books.

Jade War follows the Kaul family one year after the shocking events of the first book. Instead of sticking to what was known, it takes us across the world to show new adventures and new people. There's more world-building and so many new interesting characters.

The writing style stays ambivalent to the story and characters—it doesn't betray favouritism to any—and that makes the twists and revelations more shocking. The events of the book take place over a long time and it shows. By the time I finished the book, I felt like a year had gone by in my real life as well somehow.

I really liked seeing Hilo grow into his role in this book. Although he seems impulsive or stubborn at times, his reasoning as a leader is sound. Shae has a bigger role in this book and goes through so much. Anden has a complete growth arc of his own as well, much beyond his arc in the previous book.

Despite all of the great stuff, I couldn't truly enjoy the book. It took me much longer to read compared to Jade City and I often wasn't compelled to continue reading it. The ambivalent writing works in some ways but it also stops the reader from getting emotionally attached which can be a bad thing.

I was reading a great story but I somehow didn't connect to any of the characters or become invested in the story. When I finished the book, I didn't want to immediately pick up the next book, and I actually have it ready on my shelf! The lack of feeling for the story was disappointing.

role playing by cathy yardley

role playing book cover

I wasn't planning on reading romance in August (intentionally picking up other genres because romances were becoming boring) but I went for a day away with my friends and only took my Kindle with me. I clicked on this one randomly and read half of it by the pool while they swam.

Role Playing was a pleasant surprise. I don't usually pick up romance books with protagonists who are decades older than me because I feel like I can't relate but this was so good. The main characters Maggie and Aiden are gamers who get connected through other people. Maggie joins Aiden's gaming guild whose other members are college kids and hence she believes that Aiden is also a twenty-something guy. Aiden, on the other hand, believes that she's his mother's age.

They grow closer through gaming and the slow build in relationship is precious. There's a bit of "oh, I shouldn't be liking him/her because of the age difference" which was funny and not irritating like in many books. It's all the more funnier when they eventually meet and realize that they're of the same age.

I really liked their romance and relationship development. It was slow and soothing. It was clear that they clicked right from the start, even though they hadn't met in real life and didn't know each other's real names. Both were not looking for a romantic relationship due to different things but it was clear that they were the most comfortable with each other.

Individually, Maggie and Aiden's growths were interesting as well. I was emotionally invested in both of them right from the start. They have individual growth arcs alongside their relationship arc. We see a lot of their interactions with other people (family and friends) which added so much dimension to them.

Overall, it is a lovely book. Aiden being on the ace spectrum came out of nowhere and I really liked it. This was a type of ace experience that I hadn't read before because I stuck to younger protagonists. It makes me want to branch out in my reading.

the priory of the orange tree by samantha shannon

the priory of the orange tree book cover

A friend gave me his ARC of this book YEARS ago and it was simply a feature on my bookshelf until now. Reading this book was a part of my "read big books on my shelf" reading goal of this year. I discussed reading it with my book club in July and two friends said they'll buddy read with me. So I made the group chat and started reading it.

The Priory of the Orange Tree's size is warranted. Reading it reminded me of reading an epic like the Mahabharata. It follows several characters (with the POVs changing often) and each of their stories is worthy of an entire book. The author has masterfully crafted the world and the characters. The way the different stories were eventually interwoven was great.

Not only do we read about the current legendary story but also find out how a past legend (that is almost a myth to most and different parts of the world have different variations of it) affects the current events. This was brilliant for me. I lowkey want a book on the past legend.

The only complaint I have with the book is the frequent and jarring POV changes without any indication of who we're reading about. The book is big but it is easily readable because each section is short. The problem is that we would get maybe one or two short sections about a character and switch to a different part of the world. It would have been better if there was a title or some immediate indication of the character we're following. We have to read on and find out based on the character or place names.

Overall, a great book. Genuinely an epic fantasy. Love that everything is in one book and there aren't any unnecessary parts. I laid the book on my bed and lost myself in it every day for a week. My buddy readers still haven't finished the book btw 😂

if i never met you by mhairi mcfarlane

if i never met you book cover

As I said, I wasn't planning to read romance. But after Priory, I needed something completely different like a palate cleanser. No fantasy (which was on my to-read list) would compare if I read it so soon after Priory. I stood in front of my shelf for 5 minutes and ended up picking this.

If I Never Met You follows Laurie as her long-time partner suddenly dumps her and she has to figure out her life anew. Initially, it looked like he left because of personal reasons of feeling stuck in life and I was surprised because we usually see cheating being the only reason. But later it does turn out to be cheating and he knocks up another woman while telling Laurie that he doesn't want kids. I was not impressed.

I liked reading about Laurie's experience as she learns how to be single again and tries to make new plans because all her previous ones included her ex. She realizes how she even helped him advance in his career while staying unambitious herself because of the imagined shared future. Multiple times she laments about how he robbed her of most of her child-bearing years and left her to have a child with another woman while she doesn't know if she'll have a child soon, and she wanted a child!

The story was about how women sometimes lose themselves for a man and society lets them. When the man leaves later, the woman is ridiculed and has to pick herself up again.

But at about 75% of the book, it suddenly changed directions. There was a fake dating plot which led to a real romance but the main plot was Laurie's journey. The romance wasn't even that interesting or plausible. But at 75%, it was like the book realized it was a romance and rushed through the romance. They declared that they loved each other at the end when they barely knew each other! They didn't even have conversations about their plans for the future like children and marriage (which they have opposing views about)! It was annoying to see Laurie—who was robbed of her dream of becoming a mother by her ex—end up with a man who isn't sure of whether he wants kids. He didn't even want monogamy until 90% of the book.

Overall, it had potential but was a disappointing read. I don't recommend it.

ariadne by jennifer saint

ariadne book cover

This book has been on my TBR since Jack Edwards mentioned that it was his best read of the year in 2022. He reads a lot and reads across all genres so I wanted to read the book that stood out for him.

The book is the story of Ariadne in Greek mythology, as the name says. I never knew her story before this so it was new for me. It was fun to piece together her story with stories of those who appear in her life like Theseus, Daedalus, and the Minotaur.

From page one, the writing is immersive. I was transported to Crete and experienced Ariadne's life with her. The author brilliantly weaves other Greek stories that had an impact on Ariadne's life, even going so far as to have Ariadne hear other stories as a child and show how they impacted her personality. Medusa's story was the one that affected her the most because of how it is twisted in most tales.

If I knew Ariadne's story, I probably wouldn't have liked the book as much. While the writing is good, the pacing isn't great and there isn't much to tell about Ariadne's life. Most of the interesting things in her life are due to other characters who meet her while having grand journeys of their own. Her marriage with Dionysus was a surprise because I didn't know that Dionysus married anyone but after the initial romance, their relationship also becomes meh.

The ending of the book felt sudden and random, mainly because by then I googled Ariadne's story and didn't know the events of the book's ending. But also, I was ready for the book to end.

Overall, a good enough book. I liked that it was a feminist retelling. Unfortunately, not a great character to work with. Ariadne doesn't take charge of her own life (except ONCE which was more for Theseus's benefit than hers) and simply goes with the flow.

chat with me!

How was your August? What did you read? What are your plans for September? Have you read any of the books that I mentioned above? Tell me in the comments!

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Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • Raji says:

    Great post! Jennifer Saint's books are really good, but I agree with you on Ariadne, it's my least favorite of her works for very similar reasons. I still haven't gotten around to reading Priory of the Orange Tree, hopefully this year!

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  • abookowlscorner says:

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who found it much harder to get into Jade War than Jade City! I figured maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it because I found parts of it so tedious despite being really invested in these characters' lives 😅 If it's any consolation, though, I liked Jade Legacy a lot more than Jade War!

    Priory of the Orange Tree has been on my TBR for ages, so maybe your review is the final push I need to prioritize it! I'm definitely looking forward to reading it eventually! 🤗

    I hope you're having a great September!

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      it’s great to hear that Jade Legacy is better haha, i’ve not picked it up yet assuming it’ll be like Jade War 😬

      oh do read it! it’s such a good fantasy book!

      hope you have a great month ahead as well 😊

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      • abookowlscorner says:

        I don't think it's as good as Jade War, but by the second half, I was definitely very invested again! So I hope it manages to pleasantly surprise you, too!

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        • abookowlscorner says:

          Whoops, I meant Jade City, obviously 😂 (I'm still missing an edit button on WP 😁)

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  • thecritiquesofafangirl says:

    I am loving your vlogs to much! I am about to go and watch your latest one! I need to get around to reading Ariadne, it has been on my TBR for the longest time and it sounds so damn good! Also you are making me wanna pick up the Mindf*ck series, I definitely need to get my hands on those books.
    Hope you have an amazing September 🤍

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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      thank you, Mek! oh Ariadne is good, just maybe not as good as the more popular stories of Greek myth but it has its charms.

      and yep you really have to read the mindf*ck series!! they’re short and quick and easy to read and sooo addicting.

      hope you have a great month ahead as well!

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  • eleennaeisloved says:

    Loved the books you read this month! I also have fallback palate cleanser genres after reading anything long and heavy

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  • Vanya says:

    The Priory of the Orange Tree has been on my list for a looong time. I should read it sometimes. Great Post Sumedha!

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  • anoushka says:

    YOUR VLOGS ARE FABULOUS AND WATCHING THEM MAKES ME SO HAPPY. so im definitely not mad if that's the reason we get a shorter wrap up with less books!!!!!

    PRIORY IS DEFINITELY VERY VERY HIGH ON MY TBR ALREADY FROM ALL YOUR PRAISE AND I CANT WAIT TO READ IT THANKS. ariadne sounds a little bit terrible though and im sorry you didnt have the best time with it 😭


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    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I’M SO GLAD TO HEAR THAT, ANOUSHKA <3 i’m having quite some fun shooting and editing too 😌

      oh priory is EPIC (quite literally), do pick it up sometime!

      hope you have the best september too!!

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