Welcome to a new post in the Monthly Highlights series, in which I talk about the best books I read this month, what happened in August, and some book-related news.
What I Read
In August I read 13 books:
- 8 new novels, of which 4 were ARCs and 2 I DNFed halfway through;
- 2 collections, of which one was an ARC
- 2 short stories
- 1 reread of a novel
Quantity-wise, this might look worse than my average (I did read 15 books in July and not one was a DNF or a short story), but it’s actually not that bad, as two of the novels I read this month were over 500 pages (Jade War reached 600, even though it really didn’t need to). Quality-wise, this month wasn’t the best either; as usual, I’m going to talk in detail only about the books I really liked.
↬ Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard is a collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors.
- it talks about war, culture, colonialism and loss, and it’s as beautiful as it is painful. Even if you aren’t interested in the collection, I still really recommend the short story Immersion (the best one in my opinion), which is free online.
- it was so interesting to see so many facets of Xuya. I only know this universe from short fiction – and as all the stories are set in different places on Earth or in space, in very different times, I still feel like I don’t know this world at all. Which only intrigues me more, because what we see is so fascinating.
- the novella Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness made me love Emmanuelle/Selene as a couple, finally. From the book, I never cared about them strongly, but to read a story about them? Amazing. After this and Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship, they’re one of my favorite f/f couples.
- there was so much f/f content in this book. Two short stories, a novella, and casually queer side characters… perfect. Also, nearly every main character is a woman and all of them are people of color (predominantly, but not only, Vietnamese)
↬ The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore is the second book in The Chronicles of Ghadid, companion sequel to The Perfect Assassin.
- F/F ASSASSIN BOOK
- Buddy read with Silvia! This was my first buddy read, and it was fun, and we should definitely do that again someday. So many dead camel jokes
- Necromancy! Blood magic! Far wilder and darker than the first book, and larger in scope, but also messier both in storyline and pacing
- still liked it more, and I did really like The Perfect Assassin
- the romance was perfect. Useless lesbian with highly dubious morals and a need to prove herself meets sweet but somewhat judgmental healer girl. Disaster ensues.
- Heru. He did really have all the best lines.
↬ The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta is a coming-of-age poetry novel following a gay biracial black boy.
- About black biracial and queer identity, and especially about what being a queer man of color means in a world that expects conformity.
- The main character finds himself through drag and I loved both this aspect and the discussion of toxic masculinity tied to it
- Such an emotional read.
- Some of the poems about friendship and family were just so painful and real
- It’s set in the UK. Only this… relatively slight (still a western English-speaking country) change of scenery was so refreshing and made me realize just how overwhelmingly American supposedly diverse books are, especially when it comes to contemporary.
↬ This month, I also played the online interactive fiction game The Moonlit Tower by Yoon Ha Lee (2002).
- It’s from 2002. I was two at the time. This is so old! (Or, I am so young?)
- the premise is that you’re lost in a mysterious but really beautiful tower and want to know how you got there and how to get out
- perfect atmosphere
- do you know how many times I tried to convince the game to let me eat inedible things?
- Game: there are pines
- Acqua: EAT PINE
- Game, exhausted: [for the twentieth time], that’s plainly inedible
- as usual, the writing was beautiful, and this was overall a really interesting and calming experience, which is great, since the other game by Yoon Ha Lee, Winterstrike, will soon not exist anymore (which makes me really sad, I loved just how weird and unique it was as a whole).
What Happened in August
- I spent a week in the Rhaetian Alps. It rained almost all the time, but at least the flowers were pretty. Here’s some raponzoli (Phyteuma sp.), which in English are called rampions – a really misleading name, considering that they share it with the edible campanula (Campanula rapunculus, the raperonzolo), a completely different plant which gave the name to the fairytale of Rapunzel. One of them has a six-spot burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) on it.
- I also managed to have a few other underwater photography days in the second half of August:
Interesting Cover Reveals
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo – new Tor.com novella! This has, in my opinion, one of the most interesting covers I’ve ever seen. Also, I’ve heard it’s queer and that it has been compared to the Tensorate and I can’t wait.
The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee – first, this cover is perfect and will look really well side-by-side with The Fever King. Second, I’m scared.
The US cover of The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard has finally been revealed! I don’t love it, but I don’t love any of the US covers, so this wasn’t a surprise. Still can’t wait to read the book, of course.
How was August for you? Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?