Are we over halfway through September by the time I am writing this? Yes. Does that matter? Probably, especially in one case.
August was a fun reading month, and had all of the things I love most: literary ghost stories, some fantasy, some science-fiction, some queer literature, and a new all-time favorite to top it off.
Looking forward to September, I have made it a goal of mine to finish a few of the fantasy series that are incomplete on my shelves and work up to my favorite reading month of the year, October!
Check out my August favorites below, and notes on all of my reads.
Best of the month
“’She died instantly,’ said Kateri, implying she’d not had time to use a bookmark.”From The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
The Sentence / Louise Erdrich
When The Sentence was suggested for my book club’s August book, I launched an intense campaign to have it selected. I was right to do so, and I love being right.
Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich’s newest novel takes place at an independent bookstore in Minneapolis (not unlike her own Birchbark Books) between the turbulent months of November 2019 and October 2020. The store’s most annoying customer, Flora, dies on All Souls Day and her spirit refuses to leave the store, having a profound affect on Tookie, an employee at the store and an ex-con.
The Sentence is a pandemic novel for the ages, capturing the loneliness, uncertainty, and anxiety of that year, but also the resilience and heart of a community coming together to face unimaginable challenges. This is a novel that will make you cherish your loved ones, appreciate every aspect of the written word, and most of all, it will make you desperately want to open up a book store. One of my favorite reads of the year so far, I cannot recommend it enough.
Hawk Mountain / Conner Habib
No book has fried my nerves quite like Hawk Mountain did in a very long time. Conner Habib’s debut follows Todd and his young son, and one day they run into Jack, an old classmate of Todd’s who relentlessly bullied him as children. Jack integrates himself into Todd’s life, forming an unsettling bond with his young son. To say anything more about the plot would do you all a major disservice. Hawk Mountain is relentlessly tense and about as dark as a novel can get. Habib handles the escalating tension and paranoia with aplomb, and there is a sleight of hand at the end of the novel that left me breathless. Despite the plot description, this is a literary novel, and those going into this expecting a thriller are going to be mightily disappointed. This one has stuck with me since I finished it, and probably will for awhile longer.
The Girl in the Tower / Katherine Arden
I had read The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden last year after anticipating it for a few years, and I was… disappointed. I had a lot of issues with the pacing and found it challenging to keep track of the characters and the myriad of names for each. I wasn’t expecting to continue the series, but on a whim I picked up the audiobook for the second installment from the library. I am pleased to report that I really enjoyed it! The second book continues our journey with Vasilisa, a (maybe?) witch trying to protect her home both real and mythical forces. This novel adheres to the book-two-of-a-trilogy format and follows a quest-like structure. I really enjoyed it, the character motivations were clearer and the world-building was superior to the first. I was very excited to pick up the final book of the trilogy in September… until I wasn’t.
This Is How Your Lose the Time War / Amal El-Mohtar + Max Gladstone
A classic of modern science fiction, This is How You Lose the Time War is a collaboration between and melding of the styles of both El-Mohtar and Gladstone that maintains a surprisingly high level of quality from beginning to end. The plot sets up a cat-and-mouse game between two rival secret agents as they track and taunt each other through time and worlds, leaving letters that begin threatening, but evolve into something deeper. This is a slim, 200 page novel, but it is filled with masterful world-building. Each chapter is a different time and setting, and just a few pages immersed me in entire universes different than the last. This is such a fun and sweeping story, and it deserves every bit of praise it has gotten.
Notes on other august reads
Nightmare Fuel / Nina Nesseth
A basic overview of the way our bodies respond to horror and why we enjoy the genre. The references in the book seemed like they were pulled from the same five movies, making this quite dull. EDIT: I’ve had more time to think on it and this book was a flop.
The Pallbearer’s Club/ Paul Tremblay
Paul Tremblay’s novels are pretty divisive, and his latest is no exception. There seems to be a disconnect between what Tremblay’s novels are and what readers expect those novels to be. For instance: this one is billed as a horror novel, and it isn’t that, not really. Anyways, I love Paul Tremblay and I really liked this book. He may not be for you, and that’s okay.
Black Mouth / Ronald Malfi
I read a Malfi earlier this year and really didn’t like the ending. This book was compared to Stephen King’s IT and I was immediately sold. It’s a fun cursed town novel that has a far better ending than his Bone White.
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