August Reading Wrap Up

In August I had two readathons: the Mary Shelley AThon and the MiddleEarthAThon. Both were amazing and both inspired me to pick up books I wouldn’t have (at least this month) otherwise. It also meant that I read more than I would’ve so no complaints here!!

If you’d like to see how well I balanced my books out this month, then check out the video here!

The first book I finished in August was Fire by Kristin Cashore which is the second book in the Graceling series. This is an older YA series that has gotten a bit of a revival lately and it’s so much fun! Fire is our main character and I loved seeing her development throughout the book, as well as how the court changed around her. So excited to dive into Bitterblue next! This was my tbr jar pick and I’m glad this was forced into my hands!

Next up was Mathilda by Mary Shelley which I picked up for the Mary Shelley A Thon prompt of something written by Shelley. This is a super short read, around 100 pages, and a really interesting one. It’s essentially an unedited short story about a young woman who just wants a family and considering it’s unedited… wow is it written well. I just wish Shelley had been able to edit this one up into a fully fledged work!

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi was my next read, the Goldsboro GSFF book for last month, and WOW did I adore this book. Five stars, one of my favourites ever. This book is just amazing. I need the sequel like yesterday. This high fantasy is incredibly detailed, beautifully well developed, and I adored seeing the characters learn more about the world and each other. I love this book so much that I struggle to talk about it. That’s when you know I loved a read!

Then another great read was The River and the Book by Alison Croggon, my first reads from this author since The Pellinor Series (you know, that one that’s in my handle). This is not an own-voices book, but that is literally the only downside. It’s a beautifully written book that tackles white saviourism and it’s a real short read too. One I’d definitely recommend picking up!

Then I read the behemoth that is The Collected Poems of Robert Burns which clocks in at 600 pages. This was for a Mary Shelley A Thon prompt to read a poem/collection of poetry and this was the best choice because it was gifted to me by the readathon host Caitlyn! (from Mad Cheshire Rabbit) This is definitely not one I’d recommend generally to everyone, because there are some duds in this collection, but there are also some fantastic works and I think you should look Burns up and read a few.

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones was the Illumicrate read for August and it was… fine? There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this YA fantasy, but it also wasn’t a standout. Not one I’ll recommend or remember, but it’s fine. Read my full review linked above for more details.

Then I finished my non-fiction for the month, Timefulness by Marcia Bjornerud. This one was fantastic, having super interesting and unique discussions on geology, the physical makeup of our planet, and how we can learn to think more about timeframes past our existence. But. There’s ableism right at the end and I just can’t recommend a book after that. Check out my full review of this one coming in a few days (or available on my blog now if you’re reading this in mid September 22 onwards).

For my first MiddleEarthAThon read, a shiny book, I went for Demon Road by Derek Landy which is the first book in a YA Urban Fantasy trilogy. This is the same author of the Skulduggery Pleasant series and unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to that high bar. It was enjoyable enough though and I’m curious, so I’ll be carrying on with the series.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr works for both readathons. For MiddleEarthAThon it’s (one of) the oldest book on my tbr, and for Mary Shelley A Thon it counts for both a book outside of your comfort zone and a tbr vet. This. This book was fantastic, amazing, and a 5* read! I had the smallest of issues with how travel was portrayed but other than that – perfection! Another favourite of the year.

And my final read was most of The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This entire collection was 1122 pages so I didn’t manage to read it all before the month was up, but I did manage it in the one week of the MiddleEarthAThon, and in August I read a fair few of the short stories. I’ll mention this one more in my September wrap up but this was a 4* read and just as fun as I remember Sherlock stories being.

And that’s everything I managed to read last month! It totalled 3944 pages, and so much of that was during the MiddleEarthAThon!!

Did you get any five star reads last month? The Final Strife and All The Light We Cannot See are both amazing and I’m so glad that I picked them up!!

Collected Poems of Robert Burns, a review

The Complete Poems of Robert Burns is not a small book, clocking in at 600 pages. This contains almost, if not all, of the poems and songs he wrote throughout his life. Burns is a celebrated Scottish poet, with Burns Night being observed by Scots around the world on the poets birthday, the 25th January.

Collected Poems of Robert Burns

I’ve wanted to read Burns’ poetry for many years now, so I was excited to dive into this collection. There are some absolutely beautiful poems here, I’ll list my favourites further down, but this also seems to be just a collection of everything so there are some that aren’t as engaging.

If you’re coming into this as someone with little to no knowledge of Scots, there is a glossary in the back that’ll help you with the words you don’t know. But you will still struggle with some of the poems because the rhyming is in Scots. The English pronunciation of the words don’t rhyme, but with the Scots accent they do. For an English person I’m pretty decent with Scots, but I’d have to double back and reread the words in the Scots accent to get the rhyme to work. If you’re totally unfamiliar with Scottish accents it could be worth listening to someone Scottish read a few of these poems out loud, I’m sure there’s videos on YouTube.

Here are the poems that I enjoyed the most, they vary in theme from mourning, to nature, to political themes:

The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie, To A Mouse, Lament of Mary Queen of Scots, Winter, The Inventory, Elegy on the Year 1788, On the Birth of a Posthumous Child, The Selkirk Grace, Line Written on a Banknote, Auld Lang Syne, The Highland Widow’s Lament.

I didn’t rate this collection on CAWPILE, because it doesn’t fit into the categories there. However, I’ve rated this collection as a 3*. There are some wonderful poems like the ones I mentioned above, but there are also a fair few that I didn’t enjoy or just found neutral that brought the rating down to a respectable 3.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: racism, misogyny, death.

This is a really interesting collection, and I definitely think that Burns is a poet worth checking out. I don’t know if this 600 page bind up is for everyone but I’m glad I’ve read it. Have you read any of Burns poems? What did you think of them?

Long Way Down, a review

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a book I’ve heard about on the internet for years now, and yet I’d never gotten around to picking it up. When I was looking for a new audiobook I felt like this was the right choice and finally dove in!

We follow a Black teenage boy who is on his way down the elevator in his building to avenge his murdered brother. He was shot, and Will plans to shoot his brothers killer in revenge. That’s one of the rules. However, as the lift moves down people join him. People who should be dead. And they try to change his mind.

This is such an incredibly powerful story. Before I read it, I forgot that it was in verse, and I’m really glad Reynolds himself was reading the audiobook as it meant the inflictions were all in exactly the right place like he intended.

It’s quite hard hitting too, so I would recommend checking the trigger warnings down below. But this is all I’ll chat about the book because it’s a short one and I don’t want to spoil anything!

On CAWPILE I gave this: Characters: 9. Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 9 which is a 9.14 score and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: absent parent, blood, branding (with cigarette), claustrophobia, death (child, sibling, parent, others), drugs (selling), gang violence, guns, murder.

Have you read this book in verse, and if so did you read it via audiobook or physical/ebook? It’s absolutely beautiful and in my opinion worth all the hype I’ve seen about it.

Do you write?

I’m currently (i.e. I’ve not touched it since mid-2021) writing a novel, but this is a poem that I wrote when I was a kid! I was around 12 years old here and we all got published in a book of poems from kids at my school.

It’s actually a pretty cool little book and I’m really glad that it’s now living at my old primary school (my mum works there and took it in so the book would be used best)

I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry, but I’ve never really put my soul into the words, I always reserve myself and therefore I don’t make good poetry in my opinion. Maybe one day

Image 1 ID: A book laid open on a white background showing a poem titled Dolly Dreaming by Abigail.

Image 2 ID: A book laid open on a white background showing the end of a poem

Listen to some slam

This is a YA book which has been quite hyped online, and because of that I had avoided it for a while. Also because contemporary isn’t really my thing. But in the end I picked it up, in audiobook format, and damn am I glad I did.

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The Poet X is a powerful book, written in poetry and the audio is narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo herself. I felt my own teenage years within this, it was so raw and powerful and relate-able. Our Afro-Latina main character has had such a different life to my white British self, with such different struggles, different goals and aims. Yet here I was, on the bus home, tears streaming down my face.

This is definitely a book where you should listen to the audio. As it’s written in verse, having Acevedo read it out to you in the way she intended is powerful and it makes Xiomara’s slam poetry feel even more intense and raw.

I one million percent recommend listening to this amazing book. I’m so glad that I randomly picked this up and I definitely need to read more from Elizabeth Acevedo in the future.

GCSE Poetry Anthology

Some of you will remember this from your school days, because that’s where I got this from! During my GCSEs I got my own copy of the poetry anthology but I had never read entirely through the collection. So of course I had to do that to tick it off of my tbr.


I didn’t make any additional notes on the new poems that I read, but it was quite interesting to read those I had made whilst I was studying. There was a good variety of authors in here from various countries, talking about their own individual live. However, I wouldn’t recommend this to someone. It does perfectly fine for education but the poems don’t quite work together as a collection and reading this for pleasure just doesn’t quite work.

An interesting read non-the-less and I’m glad it was something quick I could tick off of my tbr.

Artwork on every page

This book. This book. What a first read of the year, and the decade! The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy was gifted to me by a long time friend and I am so so grateful to her for it. I had seen this book floating around, but hadn’t planned on picking it up for myself unless it popped up somewhere secondhand.

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I’m so happy that this wasn’t the case. The artwork for this book is absolutely gorgeous, it’s deceptively detailed despite the “rough” appearance and Mackesy’s skill is undeniable. On top of this beautiful artwork, which I would happily hang on my walls, is the wonderful messages on each page.

Image result for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse pagesImage result for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse pages

When people say that this book is good for 8 to 80, they are accurate. These home truths are a good lesson for the younger readers amongst us, but they’re also a good reminder for older readers and their charm is in their simplicity and their honesty.



I really do recommend picking this book up. It will be a quick read, due to its nature, and you have nothing to lose ;). Have I persuaded you yet? I hope so!


Life isn’t all Sunshine

Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton is the second poetry book I picked up secondhand from my local charity shop, purely because I wanted to read some more poetry.

Abuse, addiction and mental health are all topics present in this book, so be warned if those things are triggering to you. The poems can be quite dark at moments, but there are also many pieces which focus on brighter sides of life. Essentially, this collection encompasses the human life and the roller coaster which we all travel on.

This collection may be a little dark for some, but personally it was really nice to indulge in those darker thoughts and allow them to surface for a time and wade in them, as they are normally shoved down deep. This is something I think is good for many, to evaluate all thoughts which you have.

I’m glad that I picked this one up, and if I spot any more from this author I’ll pick it up in the future.

The perfect woman? A poetic analysis

Who Is Mary Sue? by Sophie Collins looks at the archetype of the perfect female often portrayed in media and how unrealistic this woman is within the real world. Another interpretation of a Mary Sue is when a woman writes out a character whom certain readers believe to be them simply trying to reinvent themselves within this fictional world. I picked this book up from my local British Heart Foundation charity shop as they’ve finally started selling poetry books!!

I liked the concept of this collection, however, I didn’t really connect with any of the individual poetry pieces which was a real shame. The poems all seemed very impersonal and non-connective with no real links making me feel like I can feel the authors emotions.

However, it is a very quick read and for this reason I suggest picking it up if the concept calls to you. Poetry is such a subjective art and can be interpreted so differently by the most similar of people, so I always feel that if the subject matter is of interest the poetry should be experienced first hand.

Let me know if you’ve read this collection or if you feel the same way about poetry being so personal and subjective!

A little taster of Emily Bronte

This book is one of the “Little Black Classics” from Penguin, meaning it’s incredibly short at only 55 pages. I borrowed it from my flatmate Becca as she was ripping pages out for her art project and I wanted to read them before she did that! (The art looked hella cool btw).

This is a small collection of poetry from Emily Bronte that is quite dark and broody, and I haven’t actually read any of her works as a prose writer before so delving into her poetry was interesting. Given that they’re from a while ago, they aren’t anything new, although they may have been at the time.

Instead, they’re just an interesting insight into how her mind was running at this point in time and are an interesting quick little read. Honestly, I don’t have much else to say about this tiny collection, but considering the price (cheap as chips) it could be a good starter to try out before ultimately purchasing a bigger collection of poetry by Emily Bronte.