You can really tell my mental and emotional state by looking at the books I read. They so clearly tell how I'm feeling.

On the plus side, all of my stress meant that I read quite a few books! My aim was to read 7 books in August, 1 more than last month, but I read 12 books! I know that my wrap-up is coming a little late but I'm making up for it with more content. Let's get to it.

wicked fox by kat cho

wicked fox by kat cho book cover

I actually started Wicked Fox in July but it took a while for me to read it. This is an old book from my TBR and I picked it up because I wanted the illusion of finishing my TBR. I've also heard many good things about it so I was excited.

Unfortunately, I did not like the book much. I like the overall concept and that the girl is the supernatural and dangerous one here. But I simply did NOT like the romance or the relationship. Especially towards the end.

It is a long book too, and I don't think the length is justified for the amount of plot. A lot happened but a lot also felt like fillers. The writing is also not engaging so I had to force myself to continue the book at times. The second half of the plot was pretty messy and did not flow well.

The book is targeted at YA audiences and is good enough for YA but it could have been much better. I won't be reading the series further.

the atlas six by olivie blake

the atlas six by olivia blake

I've heard a LOT about this book from Jayati so when she decided to host a readathon for it, it finally made me pick up the book. Unfortunately, again, this wasn't a great read for me. (I think Jayati will never recommend me books anymore haha, especially since I didn't like A Spark of White Fire too.)

I found the book pretentious. It was nice to read about the science and nerdy information, questions on how things work, etc. but it did not seamlessly fit into the plot. It almost felt like those conversations were dropped to show how smart and talented the characters are. But I did not find them special.

That's my main complaint. The book spoke so much about how every batch has very skilled people who fit together uniquely, but the current batch was supposed to be extra amazing. They weren't. I did not like any of them.

There was this one twist towards the end which made me go "OH" but then it backpedalled SO FAST and didn't remain an interesting twist anymore. I became very disappointed. After that, I was hoping for anything interesting and found nothing. I won't be reading this series further.

iron widow by xiran jay zhao

iron widow by xiran jay zhao

When this book was available on Netgalley as "read now" for 24 hours, I went after it so fast. I WANTED this book. An Asian-inspired fantasy story with a powerful and ambitious woman and a main polyamorous relationship?? SIGN. ME. UP.

This book was everything I expected. While its world is quite different from our reality, the concepts that it showed hit close to home. Especially on patriarchy, "women know how to sacrifice and hence we ask for more", cruel ambition, and more. The world showed how patriarchy is entrenched into every part of the society's system.

I loved Zetian. My vicious and ambitious girl. She wants to crush every person who goes against her and who put women down. The way revenge fuels her ambition and pushes her to get more and more? Love it.

This book broke the regular love triangle by making it a polyamorous relationship. When it finally happened, I was like "YES. GET IT." The author took the trope where one guy is sweet and the other is dangerous and said "why not both of them?" Love it.

While the book was awesome, it wasn't perfect. I have 2 complaints. One, it wasn't friendly to beginners to the mecha genre. I have no idea about the genre so it took me a while to understand the concept. Second, it was fully plot-driven, which is always a no in my book.

But hey, it was great. I'm eagerly waiting for book 2. Especially after the twist at the end.

the dating dare by jayci lee

the dating dare by jayci lee

Weirdly, I'm having a hard time reading audiobooks! So I decided to read a romance audiobook and it definitely helped. Romance always helps.

The Dating Dare was quite nice. I liked the characters and the chemistry between them. Both of them had a rough time during college which affected all of their relationships. They have to work through those issues to truly be together.

While both the characters have deep issues, the book isn't heavy. It has been years so they've both fairly healed but not fully. The book shows that they're works-in-progress and they try harder to overcome their issues to give their best to each other.

My only problem was the last quarter. First of all, this book had two third act breakups. One is bad enough and two was too much. And the way they got back together at the end wasn't satisfactory. I didn't like it.

Overall, the book was nice but not great. I'd recommend it as a passing read but it's not something you have to read.

keep me close by r. m. virtues

keep me close by R. M. Virtues

I absolutely loved R. M. Virtues' first two books Drag Me Up and What Are The Odds? so I was VERY excited for Keep Me Close.

But this also turned out to be a disappointing read for me. I had heard a LOT about the smut in this book. People were raving about it. And while there was a lot of it, and it was technically nice, it just wasn't my thing. The kink in this book wasn't my thing and it soured the entire book for me.

The relationship progression was also not for me. It was slow for a while and suddenly turned up several notches. I like slow relationships that don't suddenly take turns. While the emotional part of the relationship here was slow, its pace did not match the physical progression. I like those 2 things to be in sync.

This book seemed more rushed than Drag Me Up somehow. The latter had so much care put into every part of the book. Nothing overtook anything else. Keep Me Close didn't have that balance.

So yeah, I'm disappointed but oh well. I just wasn't the audience for this book. I'm excited about the further books nonetheless!

rafe by rebekah weatherspoon

rafe by rebekah weatherspoon

Rafe is the book that I go to when I'm stressed. It never fails to comfort me. The characters, the romance, other relationships—everything is comforting.

The book is about a single Black mother with twins who hires a White man as a nanny. Right off the bat, this book turns the traditional roles around. And they work SO WELL. Rafe is a tall tattooed guy who is the sweetest with kids. Sloan is a child prodigy who is currently a skilled heart surgeon. She naively got into a bad relationship out of which she got her beautiful twins. She handles being a mother and a skilled surgeon brilliantly.

The characters are just amazing. Especially Rafe and Sloan. And they act like adults who have children dependent on them! I see so many books having adults behaving irresponsibly or like children but this was not one of them. The communication in this book is *chef's kiss*.

The main relationship itself is very comforting. They spend a lot of time simply cuddling and having chats, and I LOVE that. Give me mundane scenes and cuddles and simple dates! Low angst and comforting romances are so nice.

By the time I finished rereading this, I truly felt much better. There's a reason I go to this book when I'm stressed haha.

the third best thing by maya hughes

the third best thing by maya hughes

When I was writing my college romance book recommendation list, there were many books from the list that I really wanted to reread. The Third Best Thing was one of them.

It turns out, I didn't fully remember the book. I'm not surprised, but it was so much more than what I had initially written about it. It has a plus-sized character who deals with fatphobia and emotional abuse within the family, the guy has a toxic family member, and yet both of them work towards each other. It was good but in a different way than what I remembered!

Rereading it also reminded me that I was waiting for a book on one of the supporting characters. Max is an awesome, tattoed, sassy, talented baker and I NEED a book on her. The author had told it'll be out in a year but it is not. So I directly emailed the author and she said it'll be out next year *sad face*. I'll be waiting.

all his secrets by maya hughes

all his secrets by maya hughes

As I was on Maya Hughes' website to check for Max's book, I simply checked out other books by her as well. All His Secrets stood out to me because the premise sounded so nice. A single father whose daughter has not spoken to anyone except him for 3 years, suddenly shows up with a waitress and spoke to her? Wow. I wanted all those feels.

Unfortunately, the book didn't live up to my expectations from the premise. The male lead was annoying, the romance was VERY annoying, and the female lead's bond with the daughter made no sense. The girl simply started talking to her! Out of nowhere! No backstory, no reasoning, nothing. And we moved on from that quickly. I was so disappointed.

If anyone has a better book recommendation with a premise like this one, please share it with me! Now that I got excited, read, and wasn't satisfied with this one, I need a good book with this premise.

the fourth time charm by maya hughes

the fourth time charm by maya hughes

Clearly, I was on a Maya Hughes binge. In Third Best Thing we got a few glimpses of best friends who clearly had something going on. Since the best-friends-to-lovers trope is my favourite, I picked this up.

And this was so good! Even better than Third Best Thing. Stories like this are why I love the trope. The history! The pining! The missed timings! The "what if I lose them"! The "never mind it was an accident, let's ignore it"! The way they know each other sooo well but don't notice this one huge thing and it leads to miscommunication and piiiiiining. And the way they fit so right when they finally get together.

There were a couple of things that I did not like but overall, it was great! Highly recommended for lovers of this trope.

brutal prince by sophie lark

brutal prince by sophie lark

I am not a fan of mafia romances. But when Sil raved about this book on Twitter, I HAD to try it. Brutal Prince is an enemies-to-lovers trope where the two main characters are literal enemies. They try to kill each other!

The way their relationship progressed was honestly so nice. I loved the characters, loved the chemistry between them, and their growth. When they finally got over their rivalry and became a power couple? Iconic. I especially LOVED Aida. My smart, rebellious, and vindictive girl.

I enjoyed this book so much that I reread it the day after finishing it. Highly recommend it!

you, me + baby by rilzy adams

you, me + baby by rilzy adams

I've read only one book by Rilzy Adams—Go Deep—and it was SO GOOD. When I heard that the author had an accidental pregnancy romance book, of course, I immediately got it.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't that great. It was just okay. I couldn't connect to either of the characters or understand the chemistry between them. There were some glimpses where I could totally see them together but it was only on a domestic level, not on a romantic level.

It did deliver on the accidental pregnancy trope scenes like working together to plan for the baby, having cute moments etc. but overall it wasn't enough as a romance book.

It is good as a quick, lightly christmassy, romance book with stable-ish characters. It leans very heavily on the pregnancy scenes to carry the entire romance, though.

kulti by mariana zapata

kulti by mariana zapata

There was a time when I absolutely loved 2 Mariana Zapata books. From Lukov, With Love and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me had a hold on me. I've heard of Kulti since my Winnipeg loving days because someone in the reviews mentioned that it is similar to Kulti. I finally decided to give the book a try.

First of all, Kulti is not that similar to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. Sure, both of them have main characters who are athletes and the romances are slow-burn but the similarities stop there.

While Kulti has a really nice hate-to-love and slow-burn romance, I couldn't fully like it. It has TWO tropes that I don't like. The couple has a professional relationship and I HATE those romances. I don't like it when romance affects professional lives and careers. (Yes, I know I said that I liked From Lukov, With Love but the professional relationship there wasn't as bad as this one.) This also had one scene where Kulti swoops in like a hero and saves Sal, and while I get the reality of the situation, I still didn't like it.

The second trope is age-gap romance. While this book did it kinda well, it just didn't sit well with me. If I had bothered to read the summary then I wouldn't have read the book because it has these two tropes. But oh well.

pinterest image for pages of august - shows the featured illustration at the back with the title written on top

let's chat!

You can clearly see my mental health by how much romance I read towards the end of August, haha. Does your reading also show mental/emotional health?

How was your August? Were you able to read any books? What were your best reads of the month?

stay wordy, Sumedha
photo of Sumedha

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

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  • sbpd publications says:

    Oh! my god, what a collection. Its to good.

    Reply ➔
  • vcreative says:

    August was okay for me ☺️ I have a few of these on my TBR ?
    I read Rafe a while back and I remember being so comforted by the book ? it was so good !!

    I just hope I finish the poppy war series by October ?

    Reply ➔
  • Isha | paperbacktomes says:

    Wow, I'm so happy to see Mariana Zapata's books here. I've read both The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and From Lukov, With Love and hold them dear to my heart. I haven't read Maya Hughes novel yet and was debating to add it to my Sept TBR. After reading your thoughts, I've decided to give them a shot. Have a great reading month!

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