A Review of My August 2021 Reads

Hi there!

It’s officially September, which is the unofficial start to fall! At least for me it is.

Before I say my final goodbye to Summer 2021, I’m taking a look back at the books I read (and listened to) last month.

I got through five books in the month of August, including some old books that have been on my TBR list for a while and some newer books, as well.

When You Find Me (Image from Audible website)

When You Find Me by PJ Vernon
My rating: 4/5 Stars

I randomly found this one on Audible and got excited based on the description. I’m so glad I chose it because it was a good story, was well-written, and also had some awesome psychological tricks up its sleeve.

This book starts off with our main character, Gray, already dealing with some stuff. She’s struggling with alcohol dependency, she has a complicated past and family life, and to top it all off, her husband has just gone missing. The story is told from a few different perspectives, and it’s really interesting to see things unfold (or, should I say, snowball) as we get closer and closer to a true climax in the story.

I would definitely classify this as a psychological thriller; I loved getting glimpses into the minds of these different characters and being continuously surprised by them. This one kept me guessing even after I thought I’d figured it out, and the last line got me yet again! I will certainly be on the lookout for more books by this author in the future.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 4/5 Stars

I can’t remember the last time a book had me feeling as conflicted as this one did. I’m still not entirely sure what my feelings are about this one, but there is one thing I’m certain of: Bryn Greenwood is a damn good storyteller.

This book truly does take us through some ugly and wonderful things—we get several different perspectives throughout, but we are always following our main character Wavy. With a mentally ill mother who’s in and out of jail and a cruel father who runs a meth lab, Wavy wasn’t born into the best of situations. In spite of everything life has stacked up against her, she manages to grow into a bright, together, and pretty young woman. She meets a man named Jesse Joe, a worker of her dad’s, when she is 7 and they form a special bond. As she grows into a pre-teen, her childhood crush on him grows more concrete and, although he is more than twice her age, Jesse Joe falls for Wavy as well.

This is the part that gets a little uncomfortable and really makes you think. This is also the reason why I need to keep this rating at 4 stars instead of the full 5. While I am fully against child abuse, grooming, and any type of sexual assault, I still enjoyed this story and found it interesting to see Wavy’s point of view as she described her experiences.

I’ve already picked up another of Bryn Greenwood’s books to check out, and am looking forward to meeting a new set of her characters. I truly admire her bravery as an author, the fact that she doesn’t hold back and challenges her readers to open their minds, and, above all else, her true talent for writing.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I’ve still never read the original Turn of the Screw short story, but have been wanting to read Ruth Ware’s novel since I saw the movie adaptation a couple of years ago. The movie was pretty good but had a terrible ending, and I was convinced that the book absolutely had to do it better. If you’re wondering the same thing, I can confirm it’s true.

This is the story of Rowan, a childcare worker who takes a full-time nannying job for the wealthy Ellincourt family. She is charged with taking care of their three children (one baby and two small girls) and also looking after an older teenage daughter who is back and forth from boarding school. From the first night she arrives, Rowan encounters a variety of ghost-like haunts and mishaps. On multiple occasions, things turn dangerous or threatening, and she finds herself questioning whether she should stay.

Overall, this is a good story and I enjoyed the creepy parts of it. It definitely kept me guessing and I was satisfied by the ending. That being said, the book did seem to drag at some parts including the first few chapters. I would have liked the suspense to be dialed up a bit, but otherwise this is a solid read.

We Were Never Here (Image from Audible website)

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz
My rating; 3.5/5 Stars

It’s not very often that I read a newly released book (I’m usually waiting for them to go on sale before I purchase, or just working through other books that I’ve had for a while) so this was a rare treat for me! This book has been getting a lot of buzz and it focuses on two best friends who like to travel, so it was the perfect entertainment to bring along on our trip to Jamaica last month.

In this story, we meet Emily and her best friend Kristen. Both girls are in their late 20s and have a tradition of traveling to exotic places together. They’ve always enjoyed these special trips, until one terrifying night that changes everything. Forced to commit a serious crime out of self-defense, Emily leaves the trip completely traumatized and unable to get back to regular life. Fast-forward one year when Emily and Kristen attempt to bring things back to normal with a new trip, but things only get worse from there.

This was a good novel and it definitely kept me interested, but I don’t think it quite lived up to all the hype it’s gotten this year. The book did seem very repetitive at times and I felt that the suspense was lacking. It was a nice escape of a read, but not at the top of my recommendations list.

Distress Signals (Image from Audible website)

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is the second book I’ve read by Howard and the second time she tricked me into thinking I had it all figured out! I reviewed another one of her books in my Summer Recap post, and this one had the same unique premise, interesting twists, and fresh Irish prose that I enjoyed the last time.

This book follows Adam, whose girlfriend went abroad on a work trip and never returned. After talking with her friends and family, Adam learns that his girlfriend was actually planning to leave him and has gone on a cruise with her new beau. He, of course, has trouble adjusting to this idea and feels that there must be something else going on. Suspense builds as Adam digs deeper and deeper, all the while becoming more obsessive, into what is really going on. There are also a couple of side stories that are woven throughout; I found myself getting a bit impatient with these chapter at first, but fully appreciated them at the end when it all came together.

I truly enjoyed this one and at this point think I can officially call myself a fan of Catherine Ryan Howard. I’m certainly planning to get more of her books and am on the lookout for some other Irish writers like her, too.

What were the best books you read in August 2021? I’ve added the 5 above to my 2021 Master List for anyone who is interested in checking them out. Also, if you’re interested in checking out any of these books for yourself, the images and underlined text in this post contain affiliate links to shop from independent bookstores.

I hope this new month brings you many good days and even better reads. Until next time, ❤️.

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