And just like that, another month is over. I can’t believe 2021 is moving so quickly and sometimes I forget that 2020 happened, so time doesn’t seem to want to stop for anyone. But I’ve been keeping busy starting the month with my husband’s birthday, taking some courses, and starting the Olympics. Have you been watching? My husband and I basically watch whatever is on every night. Sometimes we even keep it on during the day so our breaks are all one sport or another. It’s fun to watch the Olympics and see the challenges these athletes face especially with COVID still around.
This month I read eight books, which is par for the course. They were some excellent books too and I only broke from my TBR once to read a YA book and cleanse my palate from some of the heavier fantasy books. It was well worth it and so happy to be entering August with some fresh books.
My Favorites of the Month
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
This was such a sweeping fairy tale retelling with a great story and a mix of Eastern Asian culture. I absolutely loved the imagery, the characters, and I cannot wait to read the conclusion soon! My full review here.
Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
I absolutely love Becky Chambers and this book is by far my favorite. It was a beautiful story about a monk and a robot, but it also dives deeply into themes of existence, meaning, and the hope in it all. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good story with a deeper meaning. My full review here.
It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
I decided to read this one on a whim and I’m so glad I did. It reminded me of all those great dance movies, but with a little magical realism twist to it. I read through it so quickly wanting to find out the end, and I’ll tell you now, the ending will break your heart. My full review here.
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.
As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.
Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
This was one of my highly anticipated books of the year and it delivered! OMG, I didn’t realize this was based off real people but not in real situations. It’s gender defying, deeply militaristic, and if you’re fan of books like The Poppy Wars by RF Kuang, I highly suggest it. To be warned, this book is marketed as fantasy, but it’s more historical fiction or literary fiction. I wasn’t disappointed there wasn’t much fantasy, but I can imagine folks going into it thinking it’s one thing and getting something completely different. My full review here.
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
Jade City by Fonda Lee
This was our Fantasy Book Club read and I was so surprised by how incredible the story was. It was filled with action and intrigue. If you’re a fan of crime families like in The Godfather, then I highly recommend this one. It follows one family amongst two that are fighting each other for power over the city. And as you read, the story starts to turn for the worst for the Kaul family. I ended up rooting so hard for them in this interesting world Fonda Lee’s created. I plan on reading book 2 eventually, but this one definitely blew me away. Full review coming soon.
The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.
Small Favors by Erin A Craig
The final book of July 2021 and I have to admit, I wish I waited to read this one until the fall. It’s a spooky story, which would be perfect for October and Halloween time. Alas, I read it in July but that’s okay. This book was gripping and atmospheric from page one and I couldn’t put it down. Since it’s the final book of the month, I haven’t had a chance to write my thoughts, so full review will be coming soon!
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.
What about you? What did you read this month?