August Redux: can we not

A pair of burgundy boots rest on a bookshelf of fantasy novels

August has been tricky this year, with migraines and mental health both demanding active management. By mid-month, I’d only finished one book and was still unable to engage with digital editions. I’d love to say I got loads of other things done instead, but I’d be lying – it’s just been a difficult month all round.

Reading Round-up

All reading felt like hard work this month, although it probably didn’t help that the books in my queue were relentlessly bleak, with narratives centred on betrayal and revenge and a range of outcomes from bittersweet to bloody depressing. Objectively, it’s been interesting; but I’m hoping for less lacerating reading in September. Thank heavens for Zen Cho, whose work is at least always bright and comforting in tone while she hunts out your heart.

It took me most of the month to realise I could be listening to audiobooks instead, because I’m a bit slow sometimes and because I associate audio reads with walking, which I’ve done less of while my knee was healing from June’s meniscus tear. It was comforting to be back with the Bookburners, and if I don’t have coherent thoughts about the fourth season I do have many Feelings (mostly: Graaaaaaaaaaaace, but also Arturo and ASANTI and oh, Sal, honey).

  • Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Pérez ★★★
  • King of the Rising – Kacen Callender ★★★
  • The All-Consuming World – Cassandra Khaw ★★★
  • Bite-size Books:
    • Riot Baby – Tochi Onyebuchi ★★★☆
    • The Four Profound Weaves – RB Lemberg ★★★☆
    • Black Water Sister – Zen Cho ★★★★
  • Audio reads: Bookburners: Season Four – Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Andrea Phillips and Brian Francis Slattery ★★★★

Additional Reviews

I have been making a determined effort to write at least mini-reviews for recent reads, although I doubt I’ll add to my 20 Books of Summer round-up micro-reviews for Seven Devils and The Difficult Loves of Maria Makiling – I’m not sure I can add anything more helpful. Expect to see more regular round-up posts covering books where I have less to say in future. On the other hand, I didn’t know I had a long-form review of Phoenix Extravagant in me, so that was a pleasant surprise – I’ll always take a bonus long-form review!

…putting this list together also made me reassess some ratings. Ratings are such odd creatures – sometimes I need the context of other reads to realise ‘oh hell no, that wasn’t 3 stars’. As ever, a reminder that my ratings are entirely subjective – a combination of enjoyment and admiration, not always in equal measure. My 2 star may be a YA romance lover’s 4 star, for example.

Stacking the shelves

Little reading and the tantalising proximity of an 80% ratio on NetGalley were insufficient to stop me going on a request spree. Expect many ARC reviews this autumn. In other news, I’d completely forgotten that I pre-ordered Light Chaser, so that was a delightful surprise when it hit my inbox on release date. Hooray for unexpected bonus space opera!

Reading statistics

My goal – always – is to read diversely and to love every book. I decided not to set any particular targets for my reading this year – no Goodreads Challenge or even Game of Books – although I continue to monitor my reading mix.

Books completed: 52 | DNFs: 2

  • 7 off the shelf (i.e. not bought in 2021)
  • 22 ARCs
  • 15 bite-size (excl. short stories)
  • 7 audio reads

Authors: 13 male (25%) / 26 female (50%) / 7 trans, enby or genderqueer (13.5%) + 6 collaborations (11.5%)

  • Authors of colour: 19 (36.5%)
  • LGBTQIA authors: 19 (36.5%)
  • Non-US / UK based authors: 5 (9.5%)

BookSpin: 2 read | 3 WIP | 1 DNF

What’s coming up?

We will be announcing our Subjective Chaos Kind of Award finalists this month! This leaves me with the big decision on what categories to read for in the final round: I’d like to read fantasy, scifi and blurred boundaries, but it will ultimately depend on the number of finalists in each category and whether I can get my hands on them in time. Expect announcements sooooon.

Autumn also means Spooktastic Reads (October) and SciFiMonth (November) are just around the corner. The sign-up for SciFiMonth is now open if you fancy sharing your enthusiasm for scifi with a crew of big-hearted genre lovers (joiinnn ussss). As usual, Spooktastic Reads will be entirely casual – no sign-up, no plans, just 13 days focusing on horror, ghost stories, and the darker side of fantasy in the run up to Hallowe’en.

How was your August?