Monthly Wrap-Up: August 2021 – A Wonderful Month of Fantasy Books and A Lot of Genshin Impact

Obligatory commentary on the fast passage of time: Can you believe that August is over and it’s now September, friends? The good news is that we’re doing our best to keep up our streak of monthly wrap-up posts, so here we are with another wrap-up post today!

So let’s talk about the books that we all read this month, and all the other fun stuff that we’ve been up to. Onward! ✨

CW’s Wrap-Up

Books I Read in August

I realised that I’ve been a pretty consistent reader this year, which is very much unlike me. 😨 I’ve read 95 books this year already (sure, 21 of those books were volumes of My Hero Academia, but still! [so not counting the manga I’ve read, that’s still 74 books!]) and I’m really proud of myself and my reading progress this year.

In August, I read 15 books! I really enjoyed the books I read this month, a few of which are definitely going to be my ‘new favourites’ of 2021. I’m already thinking of my ‘top books of 2021’ list that I’ll be putting together this year and shuddering about how hard this year is going to be.

Anyway, my quick-fire thoughts on the books I read in August!

Wings of Ebony by J.Elle – I was looking forward to this book – a main character who is part-god, part-human! – but though the story, idea, and characters were great, I didn’t feel like it worked as a cohesive story. Nonetheless, if an urban fantasy with discourse on gentrification and colonisation sounds good to you, definitely give this book a go.

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan – I think this book is great for those who want an entry point into fantasy as a genre, but this won’t blow away seasoned veterans. Though there are wonderful ideas introduced or hinted at, it instead leans into a generic plot with a romance that didn’t evoke any feelings for me. I really wish I loved this but I didn’t.

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi – A wonderful book that blends the best of romance, coming-of-age, comedy, and drama. I love messy characters, but underneath all the messiness and navigating the complexity of trust and grudges, I loved that this was a heartfelt story about growing in our own way, redemption, and protecting those we love.

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn – A fascinating gothic fantasy-horror novella, about a pregnant woman aboard an ark, floating adrift post-apocalypse, surrounded by hungry monsters. It’s part cerebral, part eldritch horror, and I enjoyed how it explores maternal rage and revenge. Incredibly unique and undoubtedly memorable.

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan – A seemingly simple novel that has so much depth – about a Pakistani-Jordanian-American teen who just wants to play basketball, but is trolled by an anonymous cyberbully who calls him a terrorist. Explores allyship, racism, and friendship, written with gravity and humour as well.

After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay – A story about basketball and two boys, following their fallout. This book packs a huge emotional punch, and I enjoyed its exploration into complex relationships, how sometimes we try to save people who won’t save themselves, and privilege.

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young – I loved this so much. About a Navajo boy who finds a Water Monster, a Holy Being, that needs his help – starting a heartfelt adventure about bravery, kindness, and helping others. Loved the subplot that explores mental health and trauma as well.

Tidesong by Wendy Xu – One of my new favourite graphic novels! I loved the gorgeous illustrations in this, and how this was a slice-of-life fantasy story about water dragons and water witches, yes, but ultimately one about self-love and friendship. The main character, Sophie, was flawed yet relatable, and I connected to her instantly. Loved this!

Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao – I’ve been a gamer for as long as I remember so I’m delighted that this book exists for gamers everywhere. An honest portrayal of misogyny that’s rife in the gaming and e-sports community, but also a heartfelt and empowering story about following your dreams and doing what you love.

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee – I won’t say much because I recently finished my review, so all I’ll say is this: Green Bones Saga fans, you are going to love this. I thought Jade Legacy was an incredibly satisfying ending, and though I’m sad it’s now over, I’m happy with how it ends. My new favourite book of all time.

Keeping it Real by Paula Chase – I’m not quite sure where I’ve landed with this yet – but it was good. This book teethers on a story with great complexity and an examination of classism, but also a story with pacing issues that impeded on the storytelling potential. I still think it’s a good book for the story it tells though.

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – I adored this! Though this released in 2014, Gabi’s voice feels as relevant and fresh as ever, and that’s a testament to how good and personal this book feels. Loved this sex-positive and body-positive story and Gabi, who genuinely questions the world around her while also navigating it.

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland – If you love tropey romance stories with loving meddling families that evolve into a heartfelt story about self-love and falling in love, then this is for you. I adored Jasmine, a Korean-American adopted by a Filipino/White family; she was such a wonderful character. I think I squealed into a pillow with delight a few times because of how cute this was!

Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Barba Donna Higuera – This was so delightful! About a sporty Mexican-Chinese girl who learns that she has to do square dancing… and tries to convince her school to change it! Ultimately, a story about friendship and how traditional things can be reclaimed and made to be more inclusive!

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar – A gorgeous middle-grade story in verse, about a Mexican-Puerto Rican girl’s coming of age as she navigates boys, friendship, and her changing body and the coming of her period, and therefore her upcoming moon ceremony. Absolutely loved this.


CW’s Posts During August

I love doing our month-long guest features, but having a schedule where we post once every two to three days is a welcome break. Although this was a ‘slower’ month for us, I’ve really enjoyed writing our posts for August!

Book Blogger Resources: The Benefits of Co-Blogging and 6 Tips on Finding The Right Co-Blogger For You and Your Blog

Loved putting this post about the benefits of co-blogging together. It also made me super grateful for my two amazing co-bloggers!

I had the lovely G.Z. Schmidt visit us to talk about her gorgeous middle-grade fantasy, The Dreamweavers!

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Sue Lynn Tan, Author of Daughter of the Moon Goddess; On Her Chang'e-Inspired Debut, Themes of Love, and Writing Journey

If you’ve seen the gorgeous book cover for Daughter of the Moon Goddess and felt super excited to read it, then may I suggest reading my interview with Sue Lynn? We talk about her debut and the themes of love in Daughter of the Moon Goddess!

Book Recommendations – 12 Books about Sports, Sports, and Sporty People!

With the Olympic Games coming to a close in August, we thought: why not do a book recommendation post about sports and sporty people?

Reviews I wrote:


Other Stuff CW has been up to:

  • With New Zealand now in a high level lockdown, I’m now stuck at home doing my best to work while COVID and uncertainty rages outside. The good news is that the New Zealand government acted hard and fast, so it sounds like we’re on the right path of mitigating the curve and containing it. I so miss takeaways though. The first things I’m getting when restrictions lift, in this order: (1) KFC, (2) bubble tea/boba, (3) Uyghur lamb skewers. My mouth is watering at the thought.
  • But lockdown has given me the opportunity to get into a routine, which I can’t ordinarily do with my job since I usually travel so much. So I’m welcoming the pause and the opportunity to unwind. And it’s also given me the opportunity to cook, too! I’m hoping to cook Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken this weekend, Korean sausage buns and lo bak go next week, and hopefully dandan noodles or Taiwanese beef noodles the week after… yumyum.
  • I’ve been playing a lot of Genshin Impact! I recently got Jean (which means I now have all the standard banner characters, yay!), have been exploring Inazuma and on the daily grind for artefacts for Ayaka. Anyone who’s AR55+ in Genshin Impact and artefact farms will understand my suffering. How is it been two weeks and I haven’t had a single ATK% sands with CRIT DMG substats?! 😭 The grind continues, but at least we have 2.1 now and FISHING! For all you out there rolling for Baal and Kokomi I’m wishing you the best of luck!
  • I learned how to crochet during August… I don’t think I’ve used my brain so much since learning organic chemistry when I was in high school. My goal is to be able to knit a sweater for my love… but I’ll have to practice first!
  • Slowly working away on Pondathon II! And have been watching some Ghibli movies to get inspired…

Skye’s Wrap-Up

Sprout the sparrow holding up a pile of sparkling books.

During a rather chaotic month during which I spent most of my time being fully engrossed in video games, I read!! one whole book!! (It was a very good book.) I’ve mostly switched to using a personal spreadsheet to keep track of what I read these days, and I feel like it’s allowed me to be more chill in terms of how much I read since I don’t feel beholden to an arbitrary challenge number anymore, hehe. That being said, I’d really like to read more in the months to come still, even if just because all my shiny book orders that were affected by the pandemic have recently finally arrived!

Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells

I was immediately interested in this book from its premise, so when the author reached out to the Pond for a potential feature, I knew I had to request it! And friend, this book is so good. I’ve been having a bit of bad luck with YA fantasy lately, and I’m so so pleased to have found a recent upcoming release that has a unique, fairytale-inspired premise, compelling characters, and excellent pacing throughout! It’s got everything to love: a cursed heroine, a mysterious forest that conceals a whole other world, magic, witches, family secrets… AND a really cute sapphic relationship between girls who TALK IT OUT. You might know the author from her bisexual dragon YA fantasy Shatter the Sky, and I am so delighted to report that this book is definitely one you want to be adding to your TBR.

Releases Nov 02. Add Briar Girls to Goodreads!

Skye’s Posts During August

A banner featuring the cover of After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang. A blue dragon encircles the title. In the corner is an icon that reads: "Reviewed by Skye, The Quiet Pond".

I reviewed the recently-released After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang! This was a really sweet quiet and queer SFF novella, AND one of the first reviews I’ve written in a long time. If you’re looking for a slower, more thoughtful read with just a touch of whimsy, this is absolutely a book you want to pick up.

Other Stuff Skye Has Been Up To

  • My life… has been utterly consumed by Genshin Impact. Like, I-just-started-playing-less-than-20-days-ago-and-I’m-already-Rank-40!!!!-consumed. Literally RIP to all the other games and books I listed in last month’s wrap-up, I will return to my lovelies soon. :’)
  • I’ve started taking on design work again! When my hyperfixation on Genshin peters out, I’m really excited to be opening up to public commissions again and start earning some pocket money during my gap year. I paused for a while to focus on my final year of college, but I’m rested and feeling ready to go; I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to relax for a bit before plunging into more productive work again. Wherever you are, I hope you’ve managed to find a few restful moments in your life too!
  • I’m also helping CW a little here and there with Pondathon prep, and friends, you want to get hype for this. Trust me. 😌

And that’s it for our August 2021 wrap-up!

Unfortunately, Joce has been incredibly busy this month, and she’s been unwell too. Please give her your best wishes in the comments below – she’ll be back in action soon! 💛

If you’ve shared your wrap-up, don’t hesitate to drop us a link to your wrap-up in the comments! Have a wonderful September ahead everyone. Happy reading!

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