Hey, everybody! I hope your summer’s been amazing so far! (Unless you’re in a part of the world where it isn’t summer, in which case… What’s that like? I would love to stop sweating when I walk outside.)
A new month is here, so you know what that means: new book releases. What does August have in store for us?
Some incredibly promising reads, if my top pick is any indication:
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.
The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.
Why I Want to Read This: I read The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang last year, and it literally socked me in the face with how striking and visceral it was. I think about Rin all the time; she’s such a raw protagonist on the edge of villainy (or really, maybe no longer on the edge given how the last book ended), and I am so eager to continue her journey. Especially since I have no idea where we’re going.
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
Why I Want to Read This: I’m reading an ARC of House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig right now, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far. This is the maritime ghost story featuring a family curse that I had wanted out of The Wicked Deep, which fell short for me. Instead, I’m getting all the right vibes from this fictional world based on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” and yes, I am dying to see where these forbidden trysts are going, who these girls are dancing with, and what’s actually happening.
For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…
Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.
Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.
In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
Why I Want to Read This: Listen, I am a simple woman. You give me an arranged marriage where the groom-to-be is cold and his brother is decidedly not, I will show up with blanket and snacks and settle in to watch this drama unfold. It’s just a bonus that there’s to be court politics, land vs. sea tensions, and a dastardly plot underneath the surface in Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford. I’m also looking forward to how Nor and Zadie’s relationship is written since they’re twin sisters who are being forced to switch places.
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.
S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.
Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.
Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.
Why I Want to Read This: Crows are awesome, and since Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is narrated by one, I have to read it. I adore unconventional narrators, and S.T. sounds hilarious: domesticated, foul-mouthed, and educated by human television. And somehow he and his owner’s dog are going to try and thwart an apocalypse targeting humans? Oh, yeah, this is going to be amazing.
By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.
While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.
Why I Want Read This: Female-driven narratives are the shit, but I especially love when they’re diverse. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee features Jo Kuan, a Chinese-American teenager whose day job as a maid can’t hold a candle to her night job: writing as a pseudonymous author of an advice column for the genteel Southern lady. As the column’s popularity grows, Jo uses it to combat fixed ideas about race and gender. Cue kickass journalism but also backlash. I’m so ready to read about Jo’s journey, both from a writer’s perspective and a growth perspective. Plus, the book takes place in Atlanta (which is where I’m from) during the 1890s, and I’m always willing to read about the experiences of non-white people during periods like this one.
Both a gripping historical epic and fascinating deconstruction of the Robin Hood legend, Nathan Makaryk’s Nottingham mixes history and myth into a complex study of power–one that twists and turns far beyond the traditional tale of Sherwood Forest’s iconic thief.
No king. No rules.
England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.
As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people–Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief–become intertwined.
And a strange story begins to spread . . .
Why I Want to Read This: You wouldn’t think I’d be into the whole Robin Hood thing, but I actually am? I love the story and the concept anyway; I just don’t talk about it very often because there aren’t many adaptations that I gravitate to, I suppose, but I’m very willing to give Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk a shot. I’m especially interested because this novel seems to cover six characters, not just Robin, including Guy of Gisbourne and three female characters: Marion, Arable, and Elena. I’m already shocked and excited because you tend to only see Marion in these retellings. Safe to say, I’m looking forward to this one.
Just six books for August, but these were the ones that super caught my eye. What do you think of them? What books are you excited for that are coming out this month?