A month of reading and relaxing
August Round Up, 2018
After finishing my temporary job and moving into my new house, August was my month to really catch up on my reading and blogging. I’ve torn through a bunch of my own books and edged my Netgalley feedback ratio up to 74%. I’ve still got a bit of a backlog with respect to review to write, but I’m steadily tackling the (embarrassingly lengthy) list.
Pretty much the most exciting book-related thing that happened to me this month was getting my first physical ARC in the post! About a month ago I gathered all my nerves and shot off my first ARC request emails to UK publishers. I got one negative response and the rest were ignored, so I figured that meant I was out of luck until one morning a package from Hodder & Stoughton showed up on my doorstep with a beautiful copy of Girls of Paper and Fire. I’m so excited to read it!
Spotlight ARC of the Month:
3 / 5
For a sliver of a moment I wasn’t Maram or Amani. I was a girl in a temple, filled with nothing but want and expectation
Mirage is a simply beautiful novel. Daud paints a vivid tale of a girl torn from her family to serve her conquering oppressors, but it has so much more than that; Mirage is about hope and resilience, about myth and religion and tradition, about power and duty and sacrifice. Above all else, it is the simple beauty of the writing that elevates this book to one of my favourites of the year.
Amani is a farmer’s daughter from a minor moon of Andala, a planet recently conquered by the Vathek empire. She is stolen away from her family by intergalactic droids due to her eerie similarity to the half-Vathek, half-Andalaan Princess Maram who is hated by both sides of her blood. Imprisoned in the royal palace, Amani is stripped of her identity, her familial tattoos, and her culture as she is taught to mimic Maram. Amani is a kind girl, one who loves poetry and the stories of her people; Maram is cruel and haughty and afraid.
Amani is a dreamer. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
Spotlight Read of the Month:
* * * * *
5 / 5
Is there someone just giving out legendary magical swords to children?
Andrew Rowe makes it to my spotlight read of the month yet again with the sequel to Sufficiently Advanced Magic. He knows what his readers want: that nostalgic sense of playing an RPG video game – levelling up, discovering new characters, clearing dungeons and developing your party – combined with some fascinating and original world building, and lots of cool fights.
Exhausted and battle-weary, Corin and his school buddies settle down with Derek Hartigan and Keras Selyrian to recover and learn some flashy new combat tricks. The core cast of the last book remains similar (and Marissa is still my favourite!) with the exception of Jin and the introduction of a host of new characters including notable standout Sheridan Theas. There’s more school, more gods & monsters, more magic, more epic fights, and more of the Spire (though not enough!).
Corin Cadence finally has a firm reason to believe his brother, Tristan, is still alive.
Unfortunately, finding more information isn’t going to be easy. Tristan appears to be entangled with a clandestine organization that calls themselves Whispers. And Corin’s last brush with the Whispers didn’t exactly end well.
The best of the Great Library series to date, Smoke and Iron has everything a girl can want: tension, intrigue, plot twists, and dragons! It’s also got an incredible cast that I can’t help but love.
* * * * Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3), Becky Chambers
I am in love with my copy of this book. I went to a Q&A with Becky Chambers and got a signed copy and it is simply beautiful. The book itself is fantastic: beautiful and introspective, but also it felt adrift and a touch purposeless.
* * The Similars, Rebecca Hanover
I loved the idea behind this – six clones attend a school where their originals already go – but it fell a little flat with the weird love triangle-esque thing, the odd scientific plots, and the writing felt a little clunky.
* * * * A Study in Brimstone (Warlock Holmes #1), C. S. Denning
I read most of A Study in Brimstone in a pub with a couple of pints. It made me laugh. It felt original for yet another retelling of the classic stories. What more could you ask for?
* * * * The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles (Warlock Holmes #2), C. S. Denning
Like the first in this series, The Hell-hound of the Baskervilles focuses on one longer retelling and a bunch of shorter interpretations of the classic tales. They’re funny, imaginative, and easy to read.
* * * * The Both Die At the End, Adam Silvera
My first Adam Silvera book, They Both Die At the End, ripped out my heart and stomped all over it. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat when I turned the final page and closed the cover.
* * * Poison Study (Poison Study #1), Maria Snyder
When I opened Poison Study I felt like I’d been transported back a few years to when I’d read Maas’ Throne of Glass: Yelena is a young woman consigned to execution for committing a murder. Fortunately, I liked Poison Study more than Throne of Glass.
* * Magic Study (Poison Study #2), Maria Snyder
Magic Study follows a pretty similar format to the first book. Substitute out learning about poisons for learning about magic, add in another plot with young girls between fifteen and sixteen going missing and being assaulted in some magic-related devious plot, and you have Magic Study.
* * Fire Study (Poison Study #3), Maria Snyder
Upon reaching the end of the Yelena Zaltana trilogy, I realise that Poison Study was definitely my favourite in the series and that I wouldn’t have missed out on too much if I hadn’t carried on.
* * * * * Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
I read Artemis Fowl at least five times as a child and I LOVED IT. As a young twenty-something adult it was just as good all over again. This book is a masterpiece from Captain Holly to Commander Root to Butler and the devious Artemis Fowl himself.
* * * Raiya: Starter Zone, Russell Wilbinski
I’ve recently started reading more self-published books, particularly LitRPG (mostly because LitRPG isn’t typically traditionally published). Raiya was my go-to book when I was stuck on the bus or in a waiting room (or on the toilet) and it was pretty fun reading.
* * * * Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1), Sylvain Neuvel
Sleeping Giants had everything I wanted from it and a few more things I didn’t even know I wanted, but loved anyway: mysterious robotic entity, secret government plots, fighter pilots, crazy men, and a really cool narrative style.
* * * * Ritualist (The Completionist Chronicles #1), Dakota Krout
It’s such a delight to find a complex, thoughtful, fun, and solidly written piece of LitRPG fiction. Joe joins a ragtag band of adventurers, completes a lot of quests (hidden or otherwise), and starts to really discover the secrets of the world of Eternia.
* * * * Regicide (The Completionist Chronicles #2), Dakota Krout
Regicide was a funny, entertaining, enthralling read from beginning to end and I can’t wait until the next one. In the meantime I’m going to go and try her other series!
* * * * Waking Gods (Themis Files #2), Sylvain Neuvel
It’s rarer than you might think to find a sequel that’s just as good as the first book. Waking Gods is just as exciting, just as original, and just as fascinating as the first, all without seeming like a copy of Sleeping Giants.
What was your favourite read of August?