August 2019 Wrap Up

August was a super slumpy month for me. It’s probably the least I have ever read in one month in a while. I have completed only one book in August. I did start several other books, but because of the slump, I didn’t progress very much with them. The last week or so of the month, I started enjoying reading again, and that’s when I read my one and only book for the month. So let’s talk about it.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

to best the boys

I’ve already reviewed this book, so it’s almost pointless for me to make this wrap-up. But I will anyway. I didn’t like this book. The world-building was unbelievable to me. It was also predictable and clichee, but I picked it up specifically because I knew it would be, so that didn’t bother me. You can read my review for more of my thoughts, but I gave this 2/5 stars.


To Best The Boys by Mary Weber – Book Review

to best the boysRating: 2/5 stars

Genre: YA, fantasy

First published: 2019

Author: Mary Weber

Synopsis: Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see if their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

Okay, I’ll be honest and say I didn’t go into this with very high expectations. I went in expecting a pretty predictable, cookie cutter YA fantasy. And I wasn’t wrong. It’s exactly what it is and it’s what I wanted to read. That’s why I picked it up. I was expecting a solid, 3 star enjoyable YA fantasy. However I ended up being quite frustrated with this book. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

Let’s first talk about the characters and plot. The characters were… cookie cutter. I didn’t care about them, they didn’t surprise me. They’re exactly what you’d expect from a mediocre YA. The plot, again, was pretty much what you’d expect. The romance was blatantly obvious from page 1 and you knew from the start where this was going to go. But it was entertaining, it kept me reading. I didn’t hate the characters or the plot. It was just the kind of story that doesn’t require a lot of concentration to read. Which is like I said, what I wanted to read as I am coming out of a pretty bad reading slump and I just wanted something easy to get me back into it.

The world building was… meh. I found it very unbelievable the way they had such concepts as stem cells, but electricity was a novelty. And that kind of brings me to the things the bothered me the most. This books revolves a lot around science. It’s about a girl who wants to go to university to become a scientist. Which is great. I’m a girl who went to university to be a scientist. I can relate to that and it appealed to me. But if you’re going to write a book that is so science heavy, DO SOME FREAKING RESEARCH!!!

Like I said, they had the concept of viruses and stem cells, but electric lights were like WOOOOWWWW!!! New invention. It would have only taken a quick google search to realise that stem cells are a fairly new and poorly understood thing even with the technology we have today. There’s no way that a society without so much as electricity would have discovered them. Same with viruses. You need an electron microscope to see viruses. You can’t see them under a regular light microscope like our dear Rhen did. Also, viruses are not living organisms. They’re bits of DNA with some protein around them. They can’t replicate themselves, that’s why they infect cells. And the reason why they don’t die out is because they don’t kill cells within minutes of entering them (like this book suggested). These are all very basic facts that would have taken very little research. And I know that they’re not essential to the story. Changing the terminology wouldn’t have made a difference to the story. But it’s just the principle. You’re trying to sell me this sciency MC but you don’t bother to do the most basic research?

There was this other scene with chemistry. They had to make a solution and Rhen again tries to identify the compounds by putting them under a light microscope. Like… a microscope is not a magic tool. All it does is make stuff a bit bigger. If you could see the chemical composition of substances under a light microscope, we would hold the secrets of life by now lol Like seriously, it’s REALLY HARD to image the structure of some compounds. Especially if they’re biochemical.

Anyway, I’ll stop with the science rant now. It’s something that really annoyed me though. I guess if you know less about science you might not notice these things. But they really annoyed me.

Another thing that kind of annoyed me was that I had the very strong feeling that this was copying two very beloved stories, quite blatantly. Namely, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Stalking Jack the Ripper. I just felt like this book took those two stories and meshed them together, but really without adding any kind of twist or originality. In other words, just blatantly copying. I don’t like that.

So yeah, I didn’t like this book. I think it’s a standalone, but if it’s not I won’t be continuing with the series. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to unhaul it the next time I clean up my shelves (which should be soon).

Emerald Book Covers – Top 5 Wednesday

Trying to come up with these, I realised that I own/have read very few books with green covers, let alone emerald ones. These are in no particular order, some of my favourite covers (that I am aware  of) that are green, and more specifically, an intense green. Which is the closest I can get to emerald, unfortunately.

Gilded Wolved by Roshani Chokshi

I haven’t read this, but I love this cover and I am looking forward to getting my hands on it. I know everyone loves the story, which is great, but honestly just for that cover, I’d be tempted to get it.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

howl's moving castle

I really love this edition of the book. I’m not sure you can call that green emerald, but I just love the cover so much, I wanted to include it.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson


I adore the UK editions of Brandon Sanderson’s books and I think this one is actually my favourite. The green is not even predominant here, but I’m struggling. And I love this cover.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

Probably the only one on the list that is actually emerald. I love the covers for this series. They’re absolutely gorgeous. I tried reading the first book about 3 times and I could never get into it. The concept was really cool, but it was so tropey and not well written. So yeah, I’m not going to read this series. Which is a shame, because those covers man! I want to buy them just for the covers. But I’m not going to do that.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

I still need to read this, but I read one chapter of it and was intrigued and I love this cover. It looks so cool. I love the geometry of it, it’s so satisfying and there’s just something about dark, leafy green that really appeals to me.


Trying a chapter of my TBR books

I saw this done on booktube and thought it was a very good idea for whittling down my TBR. It’s now got to a point where I have over 70 books on my physical TBR. A lot more than 70 actually. I’ve gotten better at being selective about what books I buy, but I have now accumulated a fair number of books from Fairy Loot. Now, I love Fairy Loot, but the books they include have been a bit hit and miss. So I’ve decided to go through the Fairy Loot books that I have not read yet and try a chapter and decide whether I want to keep them or not. I have 7 books.

Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton


I gave this 3 chapters, not just one. And I don’t think I’m going to keep it. I suspected I wouldn’t love it based on the synopsis and what I read convinced me. It seems like it’s going to be a very typical YA fantasy that I’ve seen 100 times before. The magic reminds me strongly of one of the Grisha types of magic. All in all, I just don’t see myself enjoying this very much. It would probably be a 2 star read for me and I just have too many books to read to waste my time.

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye


Reading the synopsis of this, I was intrigued and I hold to that after reading the first chapter. It seems to have a really cool setting and a really cool magic system from what I could tell. Also, it has some positive blurbs from several authors whose work I’m a fan of. So I’m keeping this one.

Viper by Bex Hogan


Definitely keeping this one. I hadn’t read the synopsis of this, but after reading the first chapter, I am intrigued. It seems pirate-y.

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson


This one is an ARC and it won’t be published until July. I’m not sure about this one. On the one hand, giant elemental crows… on the other hand… another story of a princess being forced to marry someone blah blah blah. I’ll sit on this for a while longer, but realistically I won’t read it.

Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst


This was honestly such a pleasant surprise. Definitely keeping it! I hadn’t read the synopsis, so I knew only vaguely that it’s something to do with dragons. But it’s about were-dragons, aka people who turn into dragons. And it seems to take place in modern day. Also I really enjoyed the MC’s voice. Very funny.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer


I have to say I was expecting this one to be in the discard pile. It’s a dual perspective, so I gave it two chapters, one for each character and I think I’m going to keep it. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I really love beauty and the beast. but more than that, I liked the take on the beast’s curse. Also, the female MC has cerebral palsy, which is interesting although I didn’t like her voice that much.

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber


This sounds pretty cool and I enjoyed the first chapter, so I will keep this one as well. I’m actually surprised I’m enjoying so many of these!

Nocturna by Maya Motayne


I was intrigued by this from the start. A Latina-inspired setting! After reading the first chapter, I am definitely interested in reading it.

I thought I’d end up getting rid of more of them, but I’m glad that most of them appeal to me and I’m now more motivated to pick them up than I was before. So I will probably be doing this again in the future. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them.