Hoooo boy. August feels like it flew by in an absolute flash. It’s been a bit of a rough one personally, and that’s still going on… but hey, that’s life. Sometimes you roll with the punches and just try to come out better off on the other side. Sometimes things slowly reach a boiling point, and you need to work through that.
In light of this, my stand-out book for August would definitely be The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes. My review for this one isn’t published yet, as it will be released as part of the Angry Robot blog tour on September 16th. Everyone needs a Detective Tippy in their life to help them through the rough bits, and there’s something rather cathartic about reading a book that’s just truly kind with characters doing their best to help one another.
Of the books I have a review up for, I think To Be Taught, If Fortunate will be the one that sticks with me the longest. It’s a glorious novella brimming with humanity, hurt, and a belief in the goodwill of society as a whole. It’s about exploration and pushing the boundaries of our small world here on earth.
All in all, August was a great month, and if you read below… September looks like it’ll prove to be even better.
Last Month’s Reads
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (ARC) – FULL REVIEW
To Be Taught, If Fortunate is definitely a stand-out for this month. Becky Chambers always knocks it out of the park where the emotional gut-punch is concerned, and she has certainly done it again in this short novella. Despite the emotional wringer Chambers puts her readers through, it’s guaranteed that you’ll emerge from this one with a new sense of optimism and appreciation for humanity. This book was a solid 4.5/5 stars for me, brought down only due to a bit of over-explanation (albeit beautifully written and engaging over-explanation) in the first third of the novella.
The Warehouse by Rob Hart (ARC) – FULL REVIEW
The Warehouse is perhaps a bit too close to home for comfort. Detailing what a modern company town might look like in the context of the Amazon-era, Rob Hart writes a frighteningly believable American dystopia touching on themes such as racism, sexism, and classism. This is a character-driven novel that exemplifies the methods used by corporations and societies to perpetuate the status quo from within. 5/5 stars – pacing was excellent, characters were excellent, and commentary on modern society was both excellent and utterly on-point.
Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan – FULL REVIEW
I’ll confess, when I began this book, I was a bit dubious. I was worried this would be Lady Trent 2.0, a rehashing of the same old thing from her previous series. Fortunately, I need not have worried! Audrey was a fresh and interesting character with a fabulous supporting cast. This turned out to be a delightfully twisty fantasy, involving the translation of mysterious tablets, conspiracy, and politics. If you have enjoyed Brennan’s other novels, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. If you’re looking for a stand-alone introduction to Brennan’s Lady Trent universe, this is also a stellar choice which can be read without any background. 4/5 stars.
Permutation City by Greg Egan – FULL REVIEW
Greg Egan is a writer for fans of “big idea” hard science fiction, and Permutation City absolutely lives up to this. Egan’s novel is almost distressingly prescient, dealing with modern concepts like sorting through spam email, distributed computing, and a world that lives and works predominantly online. This does not feel like a novel which was written in 1994 – it feels like a novel someone wrote today about a slightly alternate vision of our present day future. Egan explores the idea of artificial intelligence in a way I simply haven’t seen done before – where an AI is not a discrete individual that can only exist as an individual, but as a program which can copy and edit itself to be whatever it wishes… not to mention what that means where humanity is concerned. 4.5/5 stars, brought down only by a few slightly loose ends where character arcs are concerned.
The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang – FULL REVIEW
R. F. Kuang returns to the world of The Poppy War with this stunning sequel, The Dragon Republic. Everything I enjoyed about The Poppy War is not only present once again in The Dragon Republic, but amplified. Rather than falling victim to “middle book syndrome,” Kuang knocks it out of the park by taking Rin & Co. in an entirely new direction. Instead of continuing to fight the same old battles against the same old enemies, Rin becomes a soldier in a new fight: the battle to fill the power vacuum she created at the conclusion of The Poppy War. I was greatly impressed by Kuang’s growth as an author, especially where pacing and voice are concerned. This was a completely solid 4.5/5 stars.
For those who have yet to read The Poppy War, I highly recommend checking out my earlier review.
I don’t know who decided that literally all the best books of 2019 (with the exception of This Is How You Lose the Time War, still one of my top two this year…) were going to come out in September, but damn, I swear it was a conspiracy to overload everyone’s TBRs. September 10th alone has some of my most anticipated reads all on one day!
The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (ARC)
Series: N/A, Stand-Alone
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 10th, 2019
I’m currently about 70% finished with this book. As of the moment, I’m anticipating this to fall somewhere between two and three stars for me; although there are several elements that should have been right up my alley, it’s just not quite coming together the way I might have hoped. That said, this is a debut novel, and this author duo does show promise. While I might not be recommending this novel any time soon, I would be willing to give this team a shot again in the future.
With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.
“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ARC)
Series: The Ninth House
Release date: September 10th
I’m so ridiculously pumped for this book. It’s lesbian necromancers in space. Those are aviators Gideon is wearing in the cover. The book opens with her attempting to bribe a necromancer priest (unsuccessfully) with porn magazines. I’m 9001% sure this is going to be one hell of a ride, and I’m looking forward to every second of it. I’ve read just a few chapters so far, but holy shit it seems like it’s going to be fun. It, too, belongs to the September 10th team. While I’ve already reviewed The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, I really need you all to take a moment to appreciate this tweet here… which I think really does say everything you need to know about these two books.
Gideon the Ninth is the most fun you’ll ever have with a skeleton.
The Emperor needs necromancers.
The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.
Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.
Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.
Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.
Of course, some things are better left dead.
The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes (ARC)
Series: N/A, Stand-Alone
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: September 10th
September 10th strikes again! This book destroyed me in the best ways, and you all have absolutely no idea how utterly chuffed I am to be participating in Angry Robot’s blog tour for it. My review will be out on September 16th along with a small write-up on mental health and wellness in SFF. The review portion of this is already complete, and I’m having to fight every single day not to hit “publish” early. I simply adored this book and want to shout about it from the rooftops. It’s so very kind and so very good. Please, I beg you all – read it.
A dinosaur detective in the land of unwanted ideas battles trauma, anxiety, and the first serial killer of imaginary friends.
Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?
Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into The Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: N/A Stand-Alone
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 23rd, 2019
This one has been on my radar ever since my friend over at To Other Worlds, Para, reviewed it a while back. One of the in-person book clubs I participate here in Manhattan picked it as their September book, and I’m very much looking forward to it! This is going to be a good one, I’m certain of it.
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker (ARC)
Series: The Tide Child #1
Release date: September 24th, 2019
This will be my first taste of an author who’s been sitting on my TBR for far too long… and having read the first chapter just to see what I’m in for with it, I’m excited. This is a book that will drop you right into the world with little in the way of introduction, but with prose that’s to die for and a universe that feels broad and expansive. Exploring Barker’s world in The Bone Ships is going to be a real treat.
A brilliantly imagined saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the epic laugh of a new fantasy from David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker.
Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.
For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.
The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.
Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.
The Miracles of Namiyah General Store by Keigo Higashino
Series: N/A Stand-Alone
Publisher: Yen On
Release date: September 24th, 2019
I’ll confess, I picked this one up from NetGalley on a bit of a whim. It looks like it’ll be feel-good and very slice-of-life, and therefore very much up my alley. I’ll be going in mostly blind, but I have a good feeling about it.
When three delinquents hole up in an abandoned general store after their most recent robbery, to their great surprise, a letter drops through the mail slot in the store’s shutter. This seemingly simple request for advice sets the trio on a journey of discovery as, over the course of a single night, they step into the role of the kindhearted former shopkeeper who devoted his waning years to offering thoughtful counsel to his correspondents. Through the lens of time, they share insight with those seeking guidance, and by morning, none of their lives will ever be the same.
By acclaimed author Keigo Higashino, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a work that has touched the hearts of readers around the world.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are you looking forward to any of the next month’s line-up in particular?
Let me know in the comments below!