July went by so slowly, I feel like half the books I read in the month were read way before. The weather has changed and turned into a full monsoon. Every day feels like a longer day because of the clouds and rain.

I usually like this weather if I have the luxury to stay at home all the time. But trying to be motivated and get work done isn't easy when the weather makes me want to curl up in bed all day. I'm working on doing things that excite me (like vlogging) to get me out of bed.

July saw me read 15 books, only half of which were romance. Two of the romances were rereads. I lowkey needed a break from the genre after a while and picked up books from other genres. Pretty proud of myself for finally getting to the other books.

the happy ever after playlist by abby jimenez

the happily ever playlist book cover

Since I loved Yours Truly so much, I decided to read the rest of the books by Abby Jimenez starting with the rest of The Friend Zone series.

The Happily Ever After is about serendipity and being there for one another. Two years after her fiancé passed away, she is still buried in grief. When she was on her way to the cemetery, a pup made her stop on the road and literally jumped into her car. With no other option, she took him home and he becomes the catalyst for her healing.

Two weeks later, when she believes that his owner may just never reach out to her posters and calls, she gets a call from Jason. They clearly have a connection right from the start. Jason isn't shy about wanting to date her but she is wary and still grieving.

This is a long and hard romance story. There's a lot about loss and grief. Just when we feel like the romance is in its happy stage, the author throws in a hurdle the size of a mountain. There's a lot about how much one can give up without being mentally affected to support their partner. Sloane and Jason were made to work hard to get their happily ever after.

It's a good book but I couldn't like it as much since one of the characters is a rock star. I've read rock star romances before. The tension and the hurdles were the same and I guessed most of the way it would play out. Jimenez writes the hard feelings really well, though. It makes the reader really feel the desolateness.

life's too short by abby jimenez

life's too short book cover

Life's Too Short is the sequel to The Happily Ever After and also features a dog (looks like the author just loves dogs a lot).

Vanessa is a travel vlogger who barely stays in one place. Her wildly successful channel is how she funds her life and supports her family who can't seem to get their lives straight. When her sister hands Vanessa a baby and disappears, she has to settle down and figure out a completely different life. The biggest shocker is how her neighbour, Adrian, becomes her support system.

Vanessa is all about living each day to the fullest. The women in her family have a history of dying by 30 due to MS and there's a high chance she will too. She grabs opportunities and doesn't let things hold her back. Adrian is a lawyer who is stuck to his routines and doesn't get out much. Vanessa pushes him and he gives her the support she needs. They basically co-parent as they fall in love.

While the first 40% was nice, the book became heavy and annoying after that. This story was a little similar to The Friend Zone. Jimenez features an illness and leaves absolutely no room for a happy ending. We are pulled into the darkness with the main character. The author stretches everything and makes the story so damn sad. Then, there's a happy ending out of nowhere in the last chapter.

The theme in this entire series is sadness. Illness or grief is the main plot thread. I'm not fond of how the writer used these things as obvious plot devices and made a story around them.

part of your world by abby jimenez

part of your world book cover

After those hit-or-miss books, I picked up the prequel to Yours Truly with better hopes. I already saw these characters make cameos in Yours Truly so I had a vague idea of what would happen.

Alexis and Daniel are from completely different worlds but have a connection right from the start. While their romance also has a tension point to give the "it may never work out" possibility, they're too damn good together and fight for the romance. Alexis mainly has to figure out how to deal with her toxic life and carry on her family legacy while making the relationship work. Daniel has his own legacy to carry forward, his dreams to pursue, and his insecurities to contend with.

I loved the absolute cuteness of this story. I loved how Alexis slowly broke from the toxic hold of her family and ex-husband by becoming independent in small ways with Daniel's help. She is a renowned doctor but has dealt with manipulation from the people closest to her. To see her bloom and receive the love and care she deserves was beautiful.

After Yours Truly, this one is my favourite Jimenez book. The Friend Zone series is too rooted in illness and death for me to like them. This duology is much better. And yes, all of her books have a dog featured. ALL.

georgie, all along by kate clayborn

georgie, all along book cover

I've enjoyed two other books by Kate Clayborn so I went into this without knowing much about it. There's been a few good reviews on it as well. I expected good things.

The book follows Georgie as she is suddenly left jobless and returns home for a break. She has been living one type of life for a long time and she needs to figure out whether it's her dream or if she has to switch careers. Her parents, mistakenly, also tell Levi that he can stay over while his house is being renovated. Through forced proximity, they learn about each other beyond the small-town rumours and fall in love.

This book's vibe was weird. I didn't like the characters, I didn't care about their pain points, and I couldn't root for their romance. Reading the book was like being in a very humid forest with a headache. Nothing feels good. Everything looks like it should feel good but it doesn't.

The romance also felt like a YA romance, somehow. The maturity of the characters and the way they expressed feelings and communicated gave the YA vibe. It's surprising considering Clayborn has always written adult.

Overall, not impressed. Not my book.

how to read a book by mortimer j. adler, charles van doren

how to read a book book cover

It's a little funny to read a book titled so considering I'm an avid reader. The only reason I picked this book up was because the author wrote an essay on annotating that I love. I thought this book would give me something good.

How to Read a Book is a guide to reading, critiquing, understanding, and using expository works. The authors clearly mention that what they say may or may not apply to fiction and reading for pleasure. They have a clear aim of what areas they want to address and provide very clear and detailed guides on each of the expository works.

As someone who mainly reads for pleasure, this was completely new for me. This is a book that is on required reading lists for Literature courses so, of course, it is over my head. But I stuck with it and it was so rewarding. Even though it was rewritten in the 1970s, all of its content is still valuable. I took over a month to read it and enjoyed all of it.

I can't put my admiration for the book in a few paragraphs, it has too much and I have too much to say. But I can say this: if you're interested in reading widely and reading well, read this book. It will give you book recommendations and the tools you need to get the best out of every book.

The book has convinced me to try reading mathematics and read more philosophy. My copy is annotated quite a bit and it is one I'll read over and over in the years to come. In fact, I have currently lent the book to a friend (with two more in the queue) so that more people read it.

babymoon or bust by ava hunter

babymoon or bust book cover

This was a random romance read from the Kindle Unlimited catalogue. It looked nice enough and I just hoped that it wouldn't disappoint me too badly.

Tessie Truelove is a workaholic who becomes pregnant from a one-night stand. She takes it in stride and hopes to manage her increasing workload with the baby. Solomon, the father, spots her on TV months after the one-night stand and shows up at her home to help. Her best friend convinces him to go on Tessie's babymoon (vacation before the birth) and work it out. During the vacation, they fall in love.

I really liked Tessie as a character. She's a boss woman. She's an interior designer at an agency that mainly caters to celebrities and is highly ambitious. She is sure about her dreams and doesn't spend energy on being polite and likeable and performing the ideal woman role, which gives her the "Terrible Tess" nickname at work. We see her war with her ambitions and her toxic work environment that will not allow her to be a good mother.

Solomon was... something. I didn't like him. I could understand his grief over losing his wife but it felt like there was nothing to his personality beyond that. Sure, he owns a bar with his best friend and used to cook, but it doesn't add anything to him even after he starts to move on from the grief. His personality is either the grief or trying to be the best for Tessie and the baby.

The romance was okay. I liked some of it but I couldn't care for a lot of it. The connection between the characters didn't seem natural. Solomon was meant to be a grump but became a stiff character instead which ruined a lot.

Overall, not a bad book but it wasn't great either.

maximum ride by james patterson

the angel experiment book cover

I was gifted a hardcover of this book almost 4 years back and one of my goals this year was to read it. If I had known how easy it was to read, I would have picked it up sooner. Unfortunately, I hadn't heard of it before and didn't know anything, despite it apparently being popular.

Maximum Ride is the story of a group of winged kids, the result of scientific experiments, on the run from terrible scientists and mutant wolves. It has action, found family, and all the emotions of young kids trying to find a safe place to be. It's a middle grade book that is meant to be simple and fun.

As an adult, there is much to want from the book. But if I forget about all the expectations and standards that I've accumulated over the years, this was a fun book to read. These kids enjoy the small things like good food and plush toys, want for a safe place to live where they're not subjected to experiments, and are on the run from "bad people" who are clearly bad. One does not need to use their brain while reading this and can just have fun.

If I had read it when I was in the target age group, I probably would have loved it.

chain of iron by cassandra clare

chain of iron book cover

I felt like reading a fantasy book with low effort so continued this series.

It was hard for me to take the characters seriously in this book. On one hand, James and Cordelia are married and have their own house and househelp, and they're plotting against the greatest demons. On the other hand, they are minors and aren't even allowed to patrol when demon attacks increase.

It was a little funny to see Cordelia and James play house though. It was funnier to see them grow a little apart from their other friends because they're so into their farce of a marriage. I couldn't take anything happening in the book seriously but I'm supposed to. They're fighting demons and people are dying but each of the characters are so wrapped up in their bubbles of "love".

I am fond of the whole Shadowhunter world and I do not want to accept that these people are Shadowhunters. Only Anna and Thomas were acceptable. Considering how immature and random the characters from the other series were, this is a new low.

Overall, not a fan. I am going to read book 3 because I want to see one truth come to light and to see Anna and Matthew happier.

a good girl's guide to murder trilogy by holly jackson

a good girl's guide to murder book cover

I didn't want to go back to romance so bad that I picked up a book that was vaguely on my mind, not even on my TBR. But wow! What a choice! I read the first two books within 24 hours and scrounged up time during a holiday trip to read the last book.

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (book 1) follow Pippa as she digs up into a 5 year old murder case in her town as part of a school project. It quickly leaves the boundaries of a school project, though. I loved seeing Pippa unapologetically asking questions, having suspicions on everyone, and losing her mind. It was lovely to see her and Ravi bond as well.

The first book was great and everything became better with every book. The last book was genuinely mindblowing. The fact that a teenager is the main character, is a content creator, and uses the internet as a tool is so cool. The character development! The direction the story went in! The details! Pippa and Ravi! The emotional turmoil! The way it tied EVERYTHING together and showed me how I knew nothing! The writing and the pacing were on-point as well.

Whether you're interested in YA fiction or not, read this series. It's absolutely brilliant. It's a whole different kind of story. You won't be disappointed.

yellowface by r. f. kuang

yellowface book cover

Y'all. What is this (points at the hype and glowing reviews online). I understand being obsessed about a good book but can we not settle for well-placed crumbs?

I didn't like Babel and I went into Yellowface with uncertainty. For the first half of the book, it had me in its clutches. I was OBSESSED. For the first time ever, I started circling words because I loved the way the author used words. There are 4 pages in the book where I've annotated so much that there is absolutely no bland space left. I started writing between lines. The first half was amazing.

But after that.. the glaring holes show. There was no depth and absolutely no nuance in the book. The first half was good because, usually, there's a build-up and setting-up part. So it's fine. But after all that set up and well-placed comments, nothing happened. There was absolutely no discussion anywhere.

There was so much potential and the right situations to have some very interesting and nuanced discussions but the author just stated things and moved on. Everything is told as fact with no black or white areas. "Athena is good. June is bad. Here are the reasons why." What the hell? Athena had clear negatives and there is some truth in June's words. But nothing was actually delved into in the entire book.

Many positive book reviews mentioned that the Twitter drama is entertaining and that publishing secrets are revealed. Well. The Twitter stuff felt pretty basic, honestly. To me, it wasn't even that entertaining, maybe because I'm tired of Twitter entirely. And publishing stuff... it was not that special. A lot of what's shown in the book is known to people who are chronically on Twitter and keep up with racism in publishing. There was no new tea being spilt. It was a story filled with things that have happened in real life. (Including the criticism against Athena, probably.)

Overall, what a mess. I do not recommend. I commend everything that was subtly and directly said in the beginning and how the author used the English language, but that alone doesn't make a book. If I could pretend that the second half of the book didn't exist, I'd rateit 5 stars. The fact the author had so much to work with and did nothing frustrates me to no end.

the martian by andy weir

the martian book cover

I bought this book on my last bookstore trip because I saw Lay talking about it all the time. I haven't even seen the movie so I barely knew what the story was about. But then, the basic brief is pretty much all of it.

When a Mars mission gets cut short due to a dust storm, spurring the team to leave immediately, Mark gets left behind behind. Everyone thinks he's but he's actually alive. We see how he survives in Mars, makes food, restores connection to Earth, and more.

I expected more emotion from the book and that's why I'm disappointed. 95% of the book was technical, especially towards the end. As a tech person, I don't mind it, but I need to be ready for it. There was barely any dwelling on emotion. The main character deals with everything through humour and solutions so he's constantly working on the next task and makes few jokes in between. Everyone else is focused on tasks as well. We got a good emotion-evoking section only near the end, and only one.

Kudos to the author for the amount of research done, though. Whether what was mentioned is plausible or not, it sounded right. There was soo much science-talk in the book, about every thing. It showed me how much I don't know, lol.

Overall, a good book but not what I expected. I finished the book with a pretty meh reaction.


I'm linking my previous reviews for these. I mainly read them as comfort reads.

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How was your July? What books did you read? Did you start something new or stop doing anything? Share your updates with 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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