Whew August was rough.
I was going to try to hit my yearly secret goal of 150 by the end of this month, but only juuuuuuust finished The Rage of Dragons at 11:53 last night, which put me at 149. But still. Usually I’m struggling to hit 150 by the end of the year, and somehow I’ve got another four months to add to my reading challenge.
However, I only read 13 books (7 books, two graphic novels and 4 audiobooks) and 4892 pages this month.
Note to self: don’t close on a house and start a new job in the same week. Moving and settling in to a new construction (omg so many headaches why did we do this and I want my library now) have been super stressful, not to mention that for the first week my cat was testing the acoustics during the early morning hours.
Spoiler: we still have a cat.
Also: when I get stressed I realized that I start to acquire more books. By acquire, I mean check out from the library. My TBR overfloweth.
Anywho, it was a combination of a lot of things but ultimately I didn’t read as much as I wanted (plus The Dragon Republic slowed me waaaaaaay down and I probably should have DNF’d it).
I also didn’t read a lot of things that I loved—although I did read a lot of four and five star books.
Queer besties Andy and Scout navigate life, love, friendship, the tumultuous political environment and their 20s in this hilarious comics collection. There’s a little something for everyone. And a little Grease Bat in everyone. This is the queer anthem I will stand by. Read it. Releases 3 September 2019.
Unbecoming by Anuradha Bhagwati
A searing, unflinching and raw memoir about a Marine captain’s life, from escaping the expectations of her strict parents to battling misogyny in the Corps both in uniform and out, and finally trying to find acceptance and love for herself. Like Mary Jenning’s Hegar’s Shoot Like a Girl, this took a mirror to my soul and reflected it back to me—and it sent me into a world of soul-searching and reflection. I related with so much in this book, and more than anything I want this (and also Kate Germano’s Fight Like a Girl) to be added to the Commandant’s Reading List to replace any of the books written by old white men. Fellow Marines—veteran, active duty or reserves—read this book now.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
A frank discussion of what it means to be a white person and how to accept that you,—yes you, fellow white person—are racist and how we can work to change. This was another hard book to read, but for an entirely different reason, because it forced me to look back and reflect, look at my own internalized biases and bigotry, and resolve not just to do better but actually put in the work to help dismantle white supremacy and systematic racism. Required reading for white people.
A rescue team of drillers and scientists get more than they bargain for when they respond to an SOS signal at a secret mining station light years from the nearest outpost. This was a surprise, because I wasn’t quite expecting to like it? It was atmospheric, creepy and, while predictable, still a lot of fun to read. I can’t wait to see where the sequel, Immunity, takes the team and how they are going to get out of the predicament they were left in.
A brief history of the rise and fall of the dinosaurs (hey, check the title) and the 4.6 billion years of Earth’s existence and the evolutionary and extinction cycles on our little blue planet. Additionally, the rapidly changing and fast-paced world of paleontology was covered in detail, which was so cool because when I was in school paleontology was a dead (hah, no pun intended) job field. For the past fifteen years, dinosaur business has been booming. Brusatte’s writing was clear and easy to listen to, if a bit repetitive at times, and I highly recommend the audiobook.
The Thaumas daughters are cursed. Once twelve, they now number eight—with four sisters dying horrifically and mysteriously until they now wonder which one will be next. Annaleigh begins to suspect that her sisters were murdered…and on their island home the suspects are few. Tense, darkly and creepily atmospheric. I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings (this is a horror version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses) and all darkly atmospheric, foggy and wave-lashed islands. I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole gods aspect, but overall it was a solid book. And ok yes, the stars are mostly for the world-building.
The Battle of the Fortress of Scattered Needles is over. Kel Cheris is dead. Shuos Jedao has possessed her body. And the hexarchate will never be the same. While Ninefox Gambit was a single, relatively straightforward siege, Raven Stratagem was a war, with multiple layers and campaigns and a long, slow plot that slowly built to its culminating point. There were a lot of points of view to handle and I got whiplash trying to figure out who was who, but I absolutely love this world, because it’s so mathematical and everyone is queer.
Stargazing by Jen Wang
Christine doesn’t know what to think of Moon Lin, the girl living in her parent’s backyard carriage house. Moon is impulsive, confident, Buddhist and a vegetarian…and she beats up kids. She’s everything Christine is not—and she just might be an alien. But slowly these unlikely friends become best friends, until Christine starts to question their relationship. It’s so good. I loved the illustrations and the storyline, although the final revelation is a little ehhh (although emotionally scary as fuck), it ties directly into the Wang’s own childhood. Releases 10 September 2019.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Two hundred years ago, the Omehi fled the Cull and landed on a foreign peninsula, determined to make it their home. Except their new country was already filled with people, who wanted them—and their dragons—gone. Holy shiiiiiiiiit this book. This fucking book. It took a while to get into it, but around the 30% mark I was sucked in, committed and entranced. There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of gore, and it’s basically Africa-based Gladiator with dragons, but motherforking shirtballs, friends, if you like epic fantasy read this book.
Aaaaaand the three stars (well, rounded up, because American Royals was 2.5). Overall, these were all decent but underwhelming in some way, shape or form. Under the Banner of Heaven was a fascinating glimpse into Mormon history and lifestyle, particularly the fundamentalists sects, and while I enjoyed reading about how whacky this religion (and all religions, tbh) is, I was discomforted by the almost masturbationary descriptions of the death and gore Krakauer writes. The deaths were portrayed in a very sensationalist manner and I just…ehh no. American Royals was a light and breezy what-if-America-was-a-monarchy, and works if you completely overlook the history of the colonies or um, the fact that slavery and American Indian genocide were completely erased from this world. She’s the Worst was a good sisters book about complicated family relationships, but was wrapped up too neatly, particularly after the long history of discontent from literally everyone in that family. The Dragon Republic was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and was a good story but ultimately underwhelming.
And that’s a wrap!
What were your August highlights?