August 2021 Round-Up

Title in white on bo

Despite being bogged down with revising for and then resitting assignments, this month has been a very good one for reading. I think this is pretty much due to staying with friends twice, which meant I got a bit of a holiday. I buddy read an entire series in person (ultimate buddy reading!) and knocked several books that have been sitting on my shelves for a while off the list.

In total I read 33 books, just over half being backlist books, which I attribute to the series reading I did. Most of the new releases were pre-orders rather than eARCs etc, so I am getting rather behind there – and the next two months are rather stuffed with releases, so expect to see a lot of ARC reviews!

Best Backlist Read

Book cover for IN THE LABYRINTH OF DRAKES: title in black on beige above drawing of dragon watching hatchlings

I could have picked any book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series for this prompt as I have loved buddy reading them with a friend. Every single one was five stars, and I highly recommend you pick them up if you haven’t already. (It also amuses me that I’m picked a book series where the reviews will be spread across September and October so it’s not just a week of one series!)

Maybe the logical book to pick would have been the first, A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS. However, the fourth book stood out slightly and is my favourite. IN THE LABYRINTH OF DRAKES, by Marie Brennan, is as dryly humorous and approaches dragons from a scientific natural history perspective (in the best possible way), while also cramming a lot of plot in. This book also blend the feel of Egyptian Archaeology with studying the creatures.

Best New Release

Book cover for AS GOOD AS DEAD: title in red on duct tape on black

My most anticipated book of this month certainly lived up to my hype and more! AS GOOD AS DEAD, by Holly Jackson, is the finale to her bestselling A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER series. It is every bit as heart-pounding and shocking and compulsive a read as the previous books, and the midpoint twist! Sending the series finale in that direction was a complete surprise, but so fitting.

This book also explores the effect PTSD has on a person, given how the second book ended for Pip, and she’s also struggling with the murky waters of right and wrong that have shaken her world view over the previous instalments.

Best Debut

Book cover for BLOODFLOWER: title in broken grey below a glowing blue stone door

I didn’t read many debuts this month, but I was excited to finally get my hands on a friend’s debut. I’d read the opening of BLOODFLOWER, by K. J. Harrowick, two (?) years ago, but not had the time to read more then. However, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to read more, so when she announced she was going to self-publish, I starting asking for an eARC!

It really is good, a science fantasy where the hero and heroine come from very different backgrounds (the hero more fantasy-leaning, and the heroine from the high-tech culture) which adds a nice layer of tension to the romance. Jàden has been in hypersleep for almost 4000 years, and awakes to find herself considered a goddess in the world’s culture – and hunted by the man who tortured her years ago.

Best UK-Authored Release

Book cover for SECRETS OF THE STARS: title in white on a green pagoda-like entrance with a ship visible through it

This month has been a great one for UKMG reads (and next month looks to be just as good.) There have been a lot of series continuations and ending released, including SECRETS OF THE STARS, by Maria Kuzniar. The second book in THE SHIP OF SHADOWS series, a pirate-y MG series full of clues for Aleja to unlock as she and the crew search for a magical map that leads them to all sorts of treasures.

In this book, we leave the Mediterranean and North Africa behind, heading across the East Asia, and strange visions are visiting Aleja. The stakes are raised and it’s so much fun to be back on board with this quirky crew and their even quirkier ship.

Most Surprising Read

Book cover for GILDED CAGE: title in black on white above a gold cage

I was really hesitant about picking up GILDED CAGE, by Vic James, because it’s a fantasy dystopia and generally I’m finding it’s hard to find good dystopia at the moment, particularly in YA, as it’s still very much leaning toward the tropes of the “golden age” in the early 2010s.

While yes, the POV balance was a little odd and hard to get your head around at times (the minor POVs not getting enough page space for their inclusion to make much sense) and there were a few points where I could see exactly where it was going, I did enjoy reading the full trilogy. This is a very British take on dystopia, so the palatial estates and hereditary titles can be woven in, making the ruling class feel like a very natural extension of today, not requiring a cataclysm or dictator to get the system into place.

Most Anticipated September Release

Book cover for DANGER AT DEAD MAN'S PASS: title in gold on a snowy, night train

September is a BIG month for releases. I count no fewer than 15 books I’m excited for, so picking one was pretty hard, but I’m being strict and only choosing one!

DANGER AT DEAD MAN’S PASS, by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, is the fourth book in the Adventures on Trains series. I can best describe the series as “Murder on the Orient Express for MG.” We’ve had theft, kidnapping, and murder, and now a curse!

These books are just so much fun to curl up with, and I love the illustrations. Harrison draws, so it fits the tone of the book to include them, but they’re also used to solve the mysteries, so pay close attention to the drawings…

How was your August?

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