August 2018 Wrap Up – It’s Not You, Scifi, It’s Me…But It’s Also Kind of You

So mental-health wise, life has been a veritable mess from July to August. After a trip to the emergency room, days of yelling and apologizing, and talking to from doctors, things are now marginally better. I’ve been throwing myself into art which has been helping quite a bit. And while it feels like I’m creeping along a tightrope and one breeze at the wrong time can push me over again, I’m hoping things will continue to move in a positive direction. Also, to the beautiful, wonderful people who messaged me with words of encouragement and support, I can barely express how thankful I am. ❤

Well, enough of that–onto the books! I read (or tried to read) 12 books this month which is a little surprising, all things considered. Of those 12, four were scifi and I didn’t much like any them, so I’m going to try to take a small break from the genre.

⚔️= Fantasy; 🚀= Scifi; 👻= Paranormal; 🔍= Mystery; 🌺= Contemporary; 🗝️= Historical; 🌈= LGBTQIAP+

The Brilliant


➽ The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T Anderson and Eugene Yelchin ⚔️:
I didn’t really know what to expect from this book going in, but holy hell, I had such a great time with it. It’s labelled YA but it’s got the same wit and dark humour found in Pratchett’s writing. So Discworld lovers, this one’s for you. Review to come.

➽ The Dust Feast (Hollow Folk 3) by Gregory Ashe 👻🔍🌈:
I’m saving the big, sappy words for the review so for now I’ll just just say that the Hollow Folk books killed me, resurrected me, and then ascended me to the heavens. Read this paranormal/mystery/thriller series and you too can experience being Jesus. Novella Review to come.


The Great


➽ I Can’t Date Jesus – Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put my Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arceneaux 🌈:

I Can’t Date Jesus is an amazing collection of personal essays where Michael Arceneaux–a journalist whose articles have been published in pretty much every media outlet–talks about his struggles with intimacy, the complicated relationship he has with religion and family, and his general experience of being a gay black man in America. It’s hilarious, raw, opinionated, and wonderfully intimate–almost like you’re having a discussion with an old friend. And Arceneaux’s dating woes make me feel infinitely better about mine because at least I can say that no one’s ever brought bedbugs and/or fleas into my bed.

A must-read for everyone, LGBTQIAP+ or not.

➽ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by the McElroys and Carey Pietsch ⚔️: (8/10)
The graphic novel adaptation of The Adventure Zone podcast. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. Review here.

➽ Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman 🌺🌈:
A YA contemporary with beautiful, honest portrayal of grief and sisterhood. Review to come.


THE (Kind of) GOOD


➽ The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bèrubè👻🌈: (7/10)
A paranormal YA that’s been called Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity. I wasn’t too impressed with the paranormal plot, but the main character and her mental health struggles were done very well. Review here.

➽ When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer🌺:
A YA contemporary that explores schizophrenia, which I don’t come across too often, and the ethics of keeping animals in zoos versus circuses. Again, while I loved the mental health aspect, the plot left me wanting more. Review to come.

➽ Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North🗝️⚔️:
A fun choose-your-own adventure novel that lets you navigate the story of Romeo and Juliet as either Romeo or Juliet. It’s got robots! And weightlifting! And kissing! And lots and lots of ways to die! I was never a huge fan of the original story (two teens insta-falling in love wasn’t really my thing), so I didn’t enjoy this as much as North’s other choose-your-own adventure book, To Be Or Not To Be, which tackles Hamlet. It’s still a lot of fun, though.



In the Present Tense➽ In the Present Tense by Carrie Pack 🚀🌈: (6.5/10)
A near-future time travel story with a ton of diversity–mental health rep, PoCs, LGBTQIAP+. I loved the time travel stuff but the actions of the characters were baffling to say the least. Review here.

The Bad and DNF


➽ Temper by Nicky Drayden 🚀⚔️: DNF 40%

I loved Nicky’s debut, The Prey of Gods, and while I appreciate the strangeness and the sheer imagination of Temper, it wasn’t really something I could enjoy so soon after my brain short-circuiting on me. There’s a lot to the worldbuilding and I just couldn’t keep up. I’ll give it another shot sometime this month.

➽ Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio 🚀: DNF 20%

As I wrote on Goodreads, if a bunch of Ivy League classics majors got very high one night and decided they would write an epic space opera, Empire of Silence is probably what you’d get. But like, less fun.

I’ve seen this book compared with Name of the Wind, mostly because of the flowery prose. But to me, while the narration in NoTW sounds like the voice of someone who’s in love with language, music, and just art in general, the narrator for Empire of Silence feels more like someone who’s in love with the sound of their own voice–verbosity without the empathy. Plus the story drags. A lot. I’m guessing it picks up at some point but I didn’t want to have to slog through 450 more pages to find out.

➽ Past Imperfect by Carrie Pack 🚀🌈: (3.5/10)

The sequel to In the Present Tense. In my review I called it a “bad soap opera envisioned by aliens” and that more or less sums it up. Review here.




➽ Topics I’d Like to See Explored More in Fantasy
➽ Book List for a Class on Developmental Psychology


➽ Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
➽ And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness
➽ In the Present Tense by Carrie Pack
➽ The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bèrubè
➽ Past Imperfect by Carrie Pack
➽ The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins


➽ The Weather in Books Tag


And that’s it from me! How did your month go?

47 thoughts on “August 2018 Wrap Up – It’s Not You, Scifi, It’s Me…But It’s Also Kind of You

  1. Carolina @fictionologyst says:

    Seems like you had a pretty great reading month despite all that has been going on! I wish you are as strong as ever Kathy! Hey I didn’t like Sci-Fi too, until last month I read Sleeping Giants and it was crazy good!!! I hope your September is even better!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      And I shall hug you back through my dusty desktop screen! Thank you, Gerry<3 ❤

      And ooh, I'm reading Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton right now, which is like a dark fairy tale where boys get sacrificed to a devil in the woods every couple of decade or so, and I'm LOVING it so far! It gives Uprooted and Bear & Nightingale vibes, and I think it might be right up your alley. Fairy Tale land is pretty great. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jennifertarheelreader says:

    Kathy, I’m sending lots and lots of big hugs. I had no idea what has been going on when you stop by my blog with your kind and loving comments. ♥️ I’m thinking of you, and I’ll keep thinking of you and hoping for more brighter days.

    I am taking note of your brilliant and great reads because you never steer me wrong. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. acquadimore says:

    Empire of Silence sounds just wonderful, I can’t wait to never try that. (I love your negative reviews, how do you come up with these descriptions.)
    I’m glad to hear you liked Summer Bird Blue! I’ve been considering it for a while – I have heard only good things about Bowman’s writing, but that was mostly because of Starfish (which I also haven’t read).
    And I hope September will be better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Ahaha thanks! I sometimes feel bad about doing negative reviews. But they do give me an excuse to be snarky. 😀

      And I’ve been kind of avoiding Bowman’s Starfish because I heard the portrayal of anxiety/depression was intense. Summer Bird Blue isn’t as…heavy as I thought it would be, though. Like, it’s got some pretty funny dialogue. Plus cute friendships!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Vera says:

    I know how hard these times are. Hang in there, art helps me too as well as being surrounded by nature. Thinking oh you and sending big, big hugs. Happy to talk if you ever feel like talking, ❤️

    Glad you found a few enjoyable reads, I’m tempted by a few of those books. 😊


  5. sjhigbee says:

    So sorry you have been having such a rough time and I hope you continue to feel better. I’m looking forward to hearing your review of The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge. I’ve been reading bits of Romeo and/or Juliet to my dyslexic granddaughter who is studying Shakespeare’s version at school. It’s been a great learning tool for her as we’ve discussed where North has deviated from the original and let her appreciate just how much she’s learnt about the plot. Though I take your point about the insta-love aspect…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum says:

    Even though I finished Temper, I didn’t enjoy it very much either…a bit too weird for me. I did like Empire of Silence though, but I thought the first half was better than the second, so if you didn’t like the beginning it was probably a wise decision to DNF, lol. Hope you have a wonderful September!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with your mental health these past months, I hope you’ll feel better soon, Kathy! ❤

    This is such a gorgeous post, and I've missed seeing your blog on my feed! I can't wait to read your Summer Bird Blue review, I'm super happy that you loved it.

    Sending you all the good vibes in the universe, and lots of hugs! I'm here with open arms and ears! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. MetalPhantasmReads says:

    Awesome wrap up. I am curious about Empire of Silence so I want to see what I think; if the writing is that overblown then I’ll be in trouble lol. I’m looking forward to your review of Summer Bird Blue. I honestly couldn’t finish her debut novel because the depression felt too strong for me…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Justine says:

    I’m glad to here you’re doing a bit better! I know it can be tough, but you’re incredibly strong! ^^
    Nice post as always! I’ve been meaning to pick up Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, but it will have to wait for whenever my mood feels like it lol.

    So, I secretly actually got an ARC of Empire of Silence on NetGalley, but I got 10% into it and had to DNF, too. People kept throwing around Dune and The Name of the Wind, and I was like holy crap this might be the next big thing. I didn’t mention it because I was a new(er) blogger and felt bad that I didn’t like it and didn’t want to tell anyone lol…It wasn’t even a big deal ><!


  10. @lynnsbooks says:

    I’m so sorry – I didn’t know you were having a tough time and I hope September is better for you 😀
    Tempter – didn’t really work for me either which was sad because I loved Prey of Gods. I don’t know whether it was too busy, the characters didn’t grab me or just too many unanswered questions but it didn’t hook me like her first.
    Lynn 😀


    • Kathy @Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Yay! It’s such a fun book! And North’s To Be Or Not To Be is also pretty fantastic. One of the things I love about his adventure books is how he gives Shakespeare’s female characters more interesting roles. So Juliet’s a weightlifter and Ophelia from Hamlet is a scientist. It’s pretty cool. 😀

      And OMG I love *your* blog logo too!! I’m gonna get so hungry browsing through it at night 😆

      Liked by 1 person

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