Pages of July || Reading Wrap-up

I’m back with another reading wrap-up because I read some books and I have opinions to share. Will this become a monthly thing? Who knows. I’m just winging it for now.

Last month, I read 8 books and I was hoping that my reading slump had ended. This month, I got over my reading slump but work is not letting me read. On the weekends when I do have time, I’m speeding through books and it feels glorious.

I managed to finish 6 books in July, and here are my quick opinions on them!

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just the two of us (book 2) by ryu hyang

just the two of us book 2 by ryu hyang

The story is about Soohyuk who came back to Korea to find his birth family and also finds love. I believe it was originally only one book but was split into two for the international audience. It was originally written in Korean and is translated into English.

I read book 1 as an eARC and wasn’t that impressed by the romance but was heavily invested in the reuniting family plotline. So when book 2 came up on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.

The romance became worse in this book and is a sore point for me. The plot’s structure clearly tries to emulate Kdramas and hence didn’t work well as a novel. The reuniting family plotline was dragged on for too long. I liked the way it ended, though.

Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend the duology. I continued because I wanted to see how it ended. You can read my review of book 1 for more thoughts.

three simple rules by nikki sloane

three simple rules by nikki sloane

I’m generally not a fan of office romances (I just hate the power dynamic) but picked this up because it was free on Kindle and heard a couple of good opinions of it. I would regret reading this if it wasn’t the one that brought me out of my slump and got me excited to read other books. Simply because they’d definitely be better than this one lol.

Speaking neutrally, there is nothing wrong with this book. It just had many elements which are no-nos for me. I can like office romances but this was a cliché office romance that I’m NOT into. Also, the way this book started (with her blindfolded and selling herself in a sex club) was NOT my thing. The sex scenes themselves were good but put together with the plot.. wasn’t enough.

the wilderness between us by penny haw

the wilderness between us by penny haw

The author kindly provided me with an eARC to read and review this book. Before getting on with the review, I just want to mention that the way the author emailed me was awesome. I was ready to read this book if it was remotely interesting because of that personalized email. Others, take note! Contacting reviewers after properly seeing their platform and preferences makes a huge difference.

The Wilderness Between Us is about two women, Faye and Clare, who go on a hiking trip with their family friends. The story is told with several flashbacks so that we get more context to the current events.

The book handles the main themes—emotional domestic abuse and anorexia—quite well. The way the two women bond and grow during adversity was inspiring. I really liked that the book showed them having a very impactful time but it wasn’t a “sudden cure” for their struggles. It was like an epiphany that leads to a good path.

We also get to read from the point of view of Faye’s husband and abuser Derek. I found it helpful to see things from his side and understand how Faye did not realize things sooner.

I finished the book in one sitting because the writing was super easy to read. I wish that the switches between the timelines were less jarring. The epilogue was also not titled as such and got me confused for a minute. But overall, I definitely recommend it to literary fiction lovers.

these violent delights by micah nemerever

these violent delights by micah nemerever

I read this because Sai sent me his hardback copy to make me read and annotate it. It took me a long time to finish the book because of work and my brain being mush most of the time. But I really enjoyed it.

My favourite aspect of the book is definitely the characterizations. The way the author revealed the layers of the characters one by one and showed the complexity and depth was really nice. I love books that totally go into characters and this gave me that.

The relationship dynamic was also amazing. It was complex and interesting. At one point, I literally made a relationship dynamic map on Paul and Julian. (It is wrong because, boy, I did not know the truth) I loved how the true dynamic is revealed slowly at the end and leaves us questioning everything we knew.

Discussing the book with Sai and Anjali after I finished was really nice and got me to think further. Definitely recommend this!

neon gods by katee robert

neon gods by katee robert

This book is very popular amongst my romance friends (basically, the people I follow). Even people who generally don’t post about romance read and raved about this book. I finally got to it in July and.. was a little disappointed.

The overall plot was good. It is a dark retelling of the romance of Hades and Persephone. It shows several Greek gods in this setting. It totally delivered on the steam.

BUT. It was not as great as I was expecting it to be. Firstly, the setup at the beginning was very fast. Hades and Persephone making a deal and getting on with the sex was so quick. There was barely any amount of chemistry shown before they got together.

Second, the characters were quite flat. Each character was given one or two characteristics with no depth. Including the main characters. I could not really like the characters at all.

Third, the setting wasn’t done well. If one is going to take the Greek myth, which is very large and complicated, all of it has to be taken. Otherwise, it feels too simple. The relationships and politics were too plain and had no depth or history. It had so much potential but didn’t reach higher.

For more explanation, you can check out Malka’s review. I agree with almost everything.

the roommate risk by talia hibbert

the roommate risk

The book was originally titled Wanna Bet? and I’ve been hearing a lot about it since the rebrand. Quite a few people on my Twitter feed have been praising it so I gave it a go. It has my favourite trope, friends-to-lovers romance, so I was really hoping to like it.

While it was quite good in some aspects, a couple of things that I don’t like brought the book down for me. The plot was pretty good and it delivered on the steam. The relationship and the chemistry were great. The book was also easy to read. I read it in two sittings only because I had to sleep.

The thing that I didn’t like the most was the main conflict. I have gone past liking books where the woman has baggage and the man is her rock. Here, he takes it even when she treats him badly. There was a little focus on how it is unhealthy for him but was not actually dealt with. The way they got together after the third act breakup was not satisfactory. I didn’t like it.

Overall, it was just okay for me. Others might like it more.