August was a mixed reading month for me. The first half was great reading-wise – I read five 5 stars in a row – but not life-wise. During the second half of the month I was in a slump and read a lot of one, two and three stars.
In August I read 17 books:
- 11 new novels, of which 3 I DNFed. 4 of them were ARCs.
- 1 short story collection
- 1 novelette
- 2 new novellas
- I reread 2 other novellas.
I feel like I have chosen all the wrong books during the second half of August. What makes me sad is that four out of these five are f/f. Why can’t we get nice things?
(We can! My favorite book of the month is f/f. It’s just less common than I’d like).
Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer – ★ DNF
I didn’t have high expectations for this one (I read it just because I love the cover and because I heard it was f/f), so I can’t say I was disappointed, but I don’t get it. Who thought writing a book about a 17-year-old dating a woman in her mid-thirties was a good idea? I know, it was another time and it’s a Dorian Gray retelling, but it felt like I was supposed to root for them as a couple and I can’t do that.
The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner – ★★ DNF
A dark fairytale about Ukrainian Jewish sisters seemed something I’d love, since The Bear and the Nightingale and Spinning Silver are some of my favorite books. But it’s been a while since I’ve found a book in which I hated the writing so much (it was almost unreadable). The “poetry” parts were also really awkward.
Barbary Station by RE Stearns – ★★½ DNF
Another book in which the writing was not good at all. I’m very disappointed this time, because this book has one of the best premises ever – f/f space pirates who are engineers, fighting an evil AI – but it was just so boring and dull.
Chord by Chelsea M. Cameron – ★★½
Cute f/f romance set in college I would have loved if it had been half its length. The second half was so boring I started skimming.
The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown – ★★½
I’m very conflicted about this one. It’s the story of a girl who lost her girlfriend and how grief affected her mental health, and I would have loved this if it hadn’t been for the awkward writing and the terrible sideplots (at some point the main character tries to turn herself straight. Why.)
Could Have Been Better
City of Lies by Sam Hawke – ★★★¼
An average high fantasy debut with some good moments. It’s the story of a siege and a mysterious killer, told from the point of view of a poison taster with OCD and his chronically ill sister. Didn’t love the ending and the weak characterization.
The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson – ★★★¼
A cute middle grade story told from the point of view of Marinka, a girl who lives in a house with chicken legs and whose grandmother is Baba Yaga. It dealt with themes like grief and wanting to fit in (and that’s difficult when you travel the world on a chicken-legged house to help the dead find the afterlife). It would have been better if it had been shorter.
The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang – ★★★½
I just wrote an entire section of books I didn’t like but this is the one true Disappointment of the month, and it wasn’t even bad. I was just expecting so much more from my favorite novella series. Anyway, this is a story about megafauna horror and who is the monster, told through letters, reports and pieces of diaries. I wish I could have cared about the main character more.
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard – ★★★★
Another beautiful novella in the Xuya companion series. I love this universe a lot and I can’t wait to read more – the next one I’m going to try is On a Red Station, Drifting, which follows the backstory of one of the side characters in this book. I think the ending of this one should have been longer, though.
Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard – ★★★★
Cooking competition in a fallen angel house! Except the main character is a spy. The only flaw I can say this story has is that it doesn’t stand on its own and it doesn’t make that much sense out of context, but that’s true of many short stories tied to series. Now that I’ve read The House of Shattered Wings I was able to get all the references and loved this story a lot. Also, Thuan is the best (who doesn’t want to read about a shapeshifting Vietnamese dragon prince who is also bisexual?)
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan – ★★★★¾
A beautiful story about a biracial Taiwanese girl reconnecting with her mother’s side of the family and her culture after her mother died by suicide. About art, depression and mental health stigma. I loved it even more than I expected and I can’t wait to read more from this author.
Into the Drowning Deep by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★¾
Terrifying marine horror was exactly what I was looking for and I got everything I wanted here, including a f/f romance between a bisexual marine biologist and an autistic lesbian who is a camera operator. Also, a lot of scientist behaving in realistic ways, and those realistic ways include being really excited about studying mermaid lice. I love this.
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee – ★★★★¾
A collection of short stories from my favorite author. There are stories about magical science, the cost of war, depression and suicide, colonization, and the importance of art and language. All of them beautiful and haunting and I wanted more. I’d read a novel set in all of these worlds, especially in the one from Ghostweight and The Shadow Postulates, or the one from Effigy Nights. The best collection I’ve ever read, but I expected nothing less.
The Black Tides of Heaven & The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang – ★★★★★
What can I say? I love this world and I love these, they’re my favorite novellas. I raised the rating to a full five on reread because that’s what they deserve.
The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard – ★★★★★
One of the best sequels I’ve ever read. I think I just really like series that are not companion series (so the books need to be read in order) but that follow different PoVs. Anyway, this was more gay than I expected and also it has some of the best characters ever and why would you not read a series about feuding fallen angels in historical Paris?
The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé – ★★★★★
One of my new favorite YA books. A story about how terrifying it can be to exist as a mentally ill teenage girl, told through paranormal (horror) metaphors. I loved how it dealt with getting out of a loop of toxic coping mechanisms. Also, it’s f/f and the romance is wonderful even though it’s not the main point of the novel. This is the kind of book I’ll probably remember forever.
What were the best and worst book you read in August?