July 2020 Wrap-up

It seems like July passed in a heartbeat! Honestly, I am kind of happy about that since I am eagerly awaiting fall book release season (and just fall vibes in general). August is a nice in-between of summery warmth and the beginnings of cozy, so I think it will be a nice reading month. Anyway, I just wanted to give a quick overview of what I read this July and what I rated each one.

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor): Lawrence, Mark: 9781101988855 ...

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A Cathedral of Myth and Bone: Stories - Kindle edition by Howard ...

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Amazon.com: Unsouled (Cradle Book 1) eBook: Wight, Will: Kindle Store

Unsouled by Will Wight

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor): Lawrence, Mark: 9781101988855 ...

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A Cathedral of Myth and Bone: Stories - Kindle edition by Howard ...

Soulsmith by Will Wight

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Amazon.com: Unsouled (Cradle Book 1) eBook: Wight, Will: Kindle Store

The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor): Lawrence, Mark: 9781101988855 ...

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
A Cathedral of Myth and Bone: Stories - Kindle edition by Howard ...

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Amazon.com: Unsouled (Cradle Book 1) eBook: Wight, Will: Kindle Store

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reviews:

My favorite was definitely the Ancestor series by Mark Lawrence. I’m currently reading the last book in the trilogy. The most unique was Gideon the Ninth. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the sequel comes out in about a week, so I’m super excited about that! I also think I did a good job with actually reading sequels at all this month. I have an unfortunate tendency to prioritize different books rather than finishing a series. Definitely something I’m working on though.

What were your favorite reads this month? Do you have any new releases you’re looking forward to in August?

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Shielded (Shielded, #1) by KayLynn Flanders

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.


Gideon the Ninth was…uh, I don’t even know. How to describe this book? It takes place in an ambiguously far future, in an ambiguous solar system full of necromancers. The emperor of said solar system, needing some necromancers, calls them to his big spooky gothic castle on a lonely sea-scaped planet. There is one necromancer from each House (of which there are nine), and accompanying them are their cavalier primaries, aka their parabatai, aka their sworn protectors and partners in crime. In this big spooky gothic castle, the necromancers search through the secrets that will allow them to ascend to Lyctorhood, a fancy immortal-type necromancer (who are incredibly powerful).

Gideon is decidedly not the cavalier primary of Ninth House, but her excellent swordsmanship and the trickiness of Harrowhark, Ninth’s necromancer, lead to her accompanying Harrowhark (Harrow for short) to the Lyctor trials. AND SHIT GOES DOWN.

I really can’t express how big of a finger this book gives to any genre stereotypes or tropes. It’s a science fantasy (?), but also gothic, oh and also, Agatha Christie. It is laugh-out-loud funny (like, genuinely hilarious), and incredibly chilling at times. There is some pretty brutal gore one page, and on the next our lovely Gideon is ogling girls through their too-thin nightgowns. The plot is an unpredictably wild ride across planets and skeleton-filled dungeons, with a nice dash of swimming pools in between. The story doesn’t follow a typical arc, so it may come off as a bit slow in parts for some readers. I didn’t mind it at all–I enjoyed getting to know the quirky cast of characters and just soaking up the atmosphere.

The characters are the main attraction of this show. Harrow, Ninth’s necromancer, is a skeleton queen, a snarky softie, and overall a major badass (in all black. all the time). Gideon is the strong and (unwillingly) silent type, but readers, privy to her inner monologue, get to see some other sides of her. She’s equally as soft as Harrow but with a goofy sense of humor, despite her giant sword. She laughs at all manner of puns and enjoys a good old “that’s what she said” punchline. Harrow and Gideon have a lovely frenemyship with lots of death threats and the occasional awkward hug. It was interesting to see them grow together when they weren’t fantasizing of ways to kill each other.

The overall tone, like the genre, was unique and riveting. Muir’s prose consisted of lovely descriptions punctuated by abrupt and occasionally raunchy humor. I thought this was a great combination because it created a sense of that lush, gothic, deep-space atmosphere while still keeping it genuinely entertaining. Five hundred pages flew by, and I was sad to see it end.

Luckily, the sequel comes out next week! If you are looking to binge some overdramatic sword fighting and skeleton servants, now is the perfect time to pick up Gideon the Ninth.

Happy reading,

Nectar by Upile Chisala

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In nectar, Chisala guides readers through a beautiful process of growth and renewal. These poems celebrate our always complex, sometimes troubled roots while encouraging us to grow through and beyond them toward a passionate self-love. Chisala’s hope is that her words will encourage readers to sow seeds of change in their own lives and the lives of others.

I received this from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

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  • TW: rape, gore, war, drug addiction/abuse, genocide, racism
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Genre: fantasy

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Continue reading “The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang”