Princess Geek Reads: Everything I Read In August

Hey guys! I don’t know about you, but August is a terrible long month, and I felt that this time around, haha! My vacation from school wasn’t that much of a vacation, so I can’t say I got as many books read as I wanted, but I did read quite a bit. Take a look!

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Synopsis: When Mira flies home to spend Christmas with her mother in Pittsburgh, a record-breaking blizzard results in a cancelled layover. Desperate to get to her grief-ridden mother in the wake of a family death, Mira hitches a ride with a group of friendly college kids who were on her initial flight.

As the drive progresses and weather conditions become more treacherous, Mira realizes that the four other passengers she’s stuck in the car with don’t actually know one another.

Soon, they’re not just dealing with heavy snowfall and ice-slick roads, but the fact that somebody will stop at nothing to ensure their trip ends in a deadly disaster.

~ ~ ~

I picked this up on a complete whim while on my vacation in Indiana a couple weeks ago and finished it within three days. after that. Does that mean that this book was so wonderful I couldn’t put it down? Ummm not really. So here’s the thing: the mystery part of it really had me wanting to keep going so I could see what the heck was going on. But I felt the writing was lacking and the dialogue was dry. I mean, when there were perilous scenes, you’d thing the characters would be yelling and screaming, right? Nope! Yeah, sometimes that happened, but most of the time they were having a near-death experience and just calmly talking. It honestly annoyed me, haha!

Speaking of the characters, I didn’t really get attached to any of them. And let’s just say my favorite character ended up being the ONE. They were all kinda boring in my opinion, but not so boring that I couldn’t keep reading.

I think what really kept me around was the thrill of it. I don’t normally read thrillers and I spent most of the time being creeped out. It legitimately gave me nightmares! Don’t judge, there’s only so much creepiness I can take (which is not a lot at all!). But, fun fact, the night before I read the plot twist of whodunit one of my nightmares actually had exactly who did it and what was up, so that was really weird since it was the last person I was suspecting.

That being said, I thought the author did a great job and throwing red herrings around. Some of them were absolutely pointless (such as the man in the yellow hat, I mean, come on!), but I was guessing everyone but the person it actually was (I mean, my brain was on point with the nightmare, but it clearly wasn’t willing to share that info with me when I was awake). Although…maybe I was just forcing the truth away since this person was my favorite character, haha!

Anyway, I thought the ending was a major letdown. I mean, here she is in this horrible situation, and then the ending is kinda like “oh man, that was terrifying” *moving on*. I think the book itself was pretty okay, it just had an ending that felt lazy. I don’t know if any of y’all like thrillers, but you could give this one a try!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

~ ~ ~

I had been aware of this book’s existence for a while, but I took my sweet time in getting to it. I’m glad I finally did, because I thought this was brilliant! I haven’t read a time traveling book in a while, so it was nice to be back in the world of Science Fiction. Honestly, I can’t really say much about why I liked this. It’s just the vibes! It feels like nothing happened at all, even though a ton of stuff happened.

For starters, I instantly fell in love with the characters (especially Far…I mean, he’s an angel from Heaven…or the Grid, I guess). The only character I was unable to like was Eliot. She annoyed the crap out of me and I hated her holier-than-thou attitude. As much as I tried to warm up to her, by the end of the book, I still wasn’t very fond of her. Pretty much the only characters I liked were the four main characters.

I thought the plot was well planned and executed, and just plain genius. I got serious Percy Jackson and the Olympians vibes from this, but it was probably because Far shares Percy’s sarcasm, which I loved. I have to say that it did escalate pretty quick at the end, since it went from party time to sacrifices and sadness in like five seconds. I MIGHT have teared up a little.

The end made me think of the end of the Legend series by Marie Lu. You know, that book that your mind probably tries to block out if you’ve read it? *cough* Champion *cough*. Is that kind of a spoiler for Invictus if you’ve read Champion? Maybe.

Like I said, there’s really not much to say about this book. Except for that I didn’t realize this came out in 2017, which made for a funny moment when they time traveled to April 2020 to go party in Vegas. I had to laugh because of all times they chose APRIL 2020. That didn’t age well, but it made for some laughs.

If you like Sci-Fi and time traveling, then this is the book for you!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known–and feared–as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne–and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…

~ ~ ~

I still don’t really know how to feel about this book…but I know I have many feelings. I’m not going to lie, this had me crying for like the last 2-3 chapters, and it certainly wasn’t what I had been expecting. I read it pretty fast when I put my mind to it, and it did feel like it went by fast. And I’m pretty sure I spent the entirety of it being sad.

Except for one part that I had to stop reading to rethink my life because Paul is simultaneously the most romantic man on Arrakis and a sarcastic little beast. This book made me love his character even more, which made the ending that much worse to read.

I loved the story, even though it didn’t really feel like much was going on at times. What really drew me in was the characters. That, and the writing. I’m a sucker for Frank Herbert’s writing style. The symbolism was magnificent. Like, I don’t think I’ve read good symbolism like that in a long time. Perfection! Overall, the book made me excited for whenever we’ll see a movie version of this, if that will ever come.

I think I like the first book better, but this one was definitely a great read. I think it was the overall vibes of the first one that I liked so much. I recommend to any hardcore Sci-Fi lovers!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classic

~ ~ ~

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this book because I’ve heard a lot of people say they didn’t like it, and then I’ve heard people who say they love it. Lucky for me, I was one of the ones who loved it! It was a sort of strange book, and the ending gave me weird vibes, but I still liked it.

I have to say that the writing style made it a little difficult to read sometimes, since I was constantly stopping to check grammar and whatnot (English tutor here). But hey, this was Fitzerald’s unique style, and it did give the book character. Speaking of character, I instantly loved the main character! It was interesting to watch him interact with the other characters, especially Gatsby. By the time I reached the end, I think I still wanted to know a bit more about this guy!

I’m terrible about reading the Classics, so I’m glad I finally got to this book. I recommend this, but like I said- you either love it or hate it!

Rating: 4.0/5 Stars

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: The Tuesday Night Club is the name for a varied group of guests who challenge each other to solve recent, and not so recent, crimes. It begins one evening when the group gathers at Miss Marple’s house and the conversation turns to unsolved crimes. Over the weeks, we learn about the case of the dripping bloodstains, the thief who committed his crime twice over, the message from the death-bed of a poisoned man who talked of a ‘heap of fish’, the strange case of the missing will, and a spiritualist who warned that ‘Blue Geraniums’ meant death.

Pit your wits against the powers of deduction of the ‘Tuesday Night Club’. But don’t forget that Miss Marple is present. Sometime later, many of the same people are present at a dinner given by Colonel and Dolly Bantry. Another set of six problems. Even later there’s a thirteenth. Can you match Miss Marple’s performance?

~ ~ ~

This book didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, which is a little disappointing since I love Agatha Christie’s work so much. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great book! But I’m used to And Then There Were None and Crooked House, so I’m more used to her disturbing stories. Is that bad? Maybe.

Anyway, I felt like these were relatively light-hearted compared to the others I’ve read/listened to. And when I say light-hearted, I mean they weren’t AS gruesome. Sure, there was still murder and creepiness and stuff, just not as much as usual. That being said, I think I went into this one thinking it would be like the others, and when it wasn’t, I found myself growing bored. Plus, this was my fist Miss Marple book, so that took some getting used to, since I like Hercule Poirot so much! But hey, Miss Marple is awesome and I like her too now!

All in all, I think it was pretty cool how this book was writing. It was a bunch of short stories put together, but written in a way so they all are told within the same story, if that makes any sense. Despite going into this book with certain feelings, I still liked it!

Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

~ ~ ~

I don’t really know what to say about this book, other than it was soul-crushing. You know, I can deal with sad books most of the time. I mean, I read them often! But when it’s true stories, and the true stories happen to be about a time where humanity was at it’s cruelest, I find that I don’t do too well with those books. The only reason why I didn’t cry was because I read most of it in public. There was legitimately a time where I had to do my best not to be sick because this author told things how it was. I respect that of her, because these kinds of books are difficult to write.

It was a beautiful story, one that made me stop and think about that horrible point in history. So many people don’t realize how badly the people suffered. Often times we only see stories about the actual warfront, but we don’t really see stories from within the concentration camps. Because of that, I think this is an important story to read, along with any others like it (such as The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom).

Still, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make myself read another WWII book again. I’m pretty sure I said that when I read They Went Left by Monica Hesse, so we’ll see!

Rating 4.75/5 Stars

All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

Genre: Drama/Historical/Romance

Synopsis: Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family.

Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas.

But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

~ ~ ~

I don’t know what I thought this book was going to be about, but it was NOT this. I had a completely different idea of what the plot of this book was, and as I started reading it, I just sat there like, “what the heck am I even reading????” At first, I didn’t like this book. I’ve seen people say that this book is extremely confusing, and I have to agree. The whole first half I had zero clue as to what was happening because of the way it’s written. It’s got a cool second-first person mash up, which is a style I’ve always liked, but it was written in a way that made it very hard to tell what the main character was talking about. Along with that, I found the characters to be boring.

As time went on, however, I found myself growing attached to Lucas, so I decided to stick around for his sake. Then, as I started to understand the plot, I guess I kinda grew to like that, too. By the end, this book had gone from being a 2 star to a 4 star. Go figure! I honestly couldn’t tell you what exactly made me change my mind about it, but there was just an overall vibe to it that I liked near the end. It reminded me of Songs From the Deep by Kelly Powell, which is one of my favorite books ever, so that helped.

Still, this book didn’t come even CLOSE to beating Berry’s Lovely War. In fact, I wonder if she’ll be able to write any more books that could beat that one…

Rating: 4.0/5 Stars

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

~ ~ ~

This took me SO LONG to read, and I don’t even know why. I can’t remember when I started reading this, but it was sometime at the beginning of the year. I read it off and on, not ever really getting that attached to it. After Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, I just didn’t think this one could live up to the hype. The only reason I started reading it was so I could watch the show, and the only reason I wanted to watch the show was because my guys from Six of Crows were in it.

But I decided I was going to finish this book! So I sat down for some hardcore reading, and I had it read in like two days. I found I actually liked the book, and I want more. NOW! I grew attached to the characters and I want to find out what happens to them! I wasn’t surprised to find that I actually liked Mal, because every time there’s a hated character within a fandom, I usually end up liking them. In fact, does anyone out there ship him with Alina? Looking for a friend. I mean, maybe as I read the other two books I’ll find why people don’t like him…

The cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous and probably one of my favorite book covers I own. I got the newest edition and it has the best combination of colors. Am I judging this book by it’s cover? Maybe? Now that I’ve read the whole thing, I have to admit that it is quite good. Just not as good as the Six of Crows duology. Will anything be as good as Six of Crows??? Probably not.

Now to watch the show! I watched the first two episodes back in May and I liked what I saw, so now I’m back to it.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Peril At End House by Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Synopsis: Hercule Poirot is vacationing on the Cornish coast when he meets Nick Buckley. Nick is the young and reckless mistress of End House, an imposing structure perched on the rocky cliffs of St. Loo.

Poirot quickly takes a particular interest in the young woman. Recently, she has narrowly escaped a series of life-threatening accidents. Something tells the Belgian sleuth that these so-called accidents are more than just mere coincidences or a spate of bad luck. Something like a bullet! It seems all too clear to him that someone is trying to do away with poor Nick, but who? And, what is the motive? In his quest for answers, Poirot must delve into the dark history of End House. The deeper he gets into his investigation, the more certain he is that the killer will soon strike again. And, this time, Nick may not escape with her life.

~ ~ ~

I thought I had this book figured out, but literally at the last second a curveball plot twist came in to pull the rug out from under me! I loved this book so much, and I missed listening to this particular narrator, so it was nice to listen to! This was the kind of Agatha Christie book I was talking about above; the kind that has a bit of creepiness in it! And the way the ending plot twist was written was amazing!

As always with Christie books, I loved the writing style and the characters. Sometimes it was a little hard to keep track of all the characters, but that could have been because I was listening to the book instead of reading it. I especially loved the banter between Poirot and his friend Hastings. Nick’s character was probably the most intriguing of all, and I really didn’t expect what happened to her at the end.

I mean, all the hints were there, staring me right in the face, and I still didn’t guess! Every time I thought I had it, there would be something else that didn’t make sense. When I finally got to the truth, it took me a moment to process it, haha! I have to say I’m still a little confused on a couple of things because of the amount of red herrings that were in the story, but it didn’t really put a damper on the story, in my opinion at least.

I highly recommend to any mystery lover!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

That’s all! I had really hoped to read more, but I did what I can! I hope to read at least this much in September even though my life has been hectic lately, so wish me luck! What did you read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

And as always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful week!

Synopses taken from Goodreads.

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