Welcome to the August 2021 reading wrapup.
As you may (or may not) have noticed, I didn’t do a July wrapup.
That’s because The Empire’s Ruin took me a loooong time to finish (and I did put it in the June review).
So I figured I’d just skip a month.
As always, you can either scroll down to read all of the reviews, or go below the image and click the link of the book/genre that sounds most interesting to you. You’ll then jump straight to the review of that book.
Mini-reviews August 2021
Nolyn (The Rise and Fall #1) by Michael J. Sullivan
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Grim Oak Press
Nolyn is the first book of ‘The Rise and Fall’ series by Michael J. Sullivan.
I’d never read a book by Sullivan before, but after reading Nolyn, I’m definitely going to change that!
I received an arc of the book from Netgalley and Grim Oak Press in exchange for an honest book review.
What’s it about?
After more than five hundred years of exile, Nolyn, the heir to the empyre, is weary about his reassignment to duty on the Goblin War’s front lines. He needs to rescue an outpost, leading to a dead-end canyon deep inside enemy territory. Someone went to a great deal of trouble planning his death to look like a casualty of war. Lucky for Nolyn, he got assigned with the Seventh Sikaria Auxiliary Squadron, real legendary soldiers. They might just make it out alive.
Characters & storylines
We mostly see the story from the perspective of Nolyn, who’s the above-mentioned heir, and Sephryn. Both are children of legendary people (whose story took place in the First Empire series if I’m not mistaken).
While Nolyn has to fight off the ghazel and get out alive with his squadron, Sephryn remains in the capital trying to bring more equality between the Instarya and humans.
But things take a dark turn when she comes home one day to find her nursemaid murdered, her baby stolen, and a voice in her head commanding her to steal a certain artifact if she ever wants to see her son again.
I loved both their storylines a lot. Nolyn’s story gave some great action scenes. And the bonding between Nolyn and the squadron was a delight to read. I especially enjoyed the growing bond between the skeptical Amicus and Nolyn.
Sullivan also did a great job with the characterization. This all comes down to some nice details. For instance, Nolyn is terrible with names, so when we first meet the squadron, a lot of them have nicknames given by Nolyn before he can remember their actual names. I just really loved that little detail.
On the other hand, Sephryn’s story made the racial issues in the empyre clearer and gave me a thrilling mystery to solve. Who is that voice? What is their endgame?
I loved reading along and finding the clues and trying to figure out what it all meant. I wasn’t great at it, but perhaps if I’d read some of the other books (and would’ve known a bit more about the history of the world) I’d have gotten the answer sooner.
I also really loved Sephryn’s character—she lives to help other people. We can see this from the very beginning, where she’s basically the only one who’s nice to a woman who’s clearly somewhat crazy. And she would do anything for her son.
Some highlights on what I loved
While there were a lot of things I loved about this book, I especially loved the ending. Everything came together so well, and I just couldn’t put the story down anymore. I had to know how everything would conclude. And that conclusion didn’t disappoint.
There were certainly some devastating parts of that conclusion, and it might be that not everyone will like how it ends. But I think it made sense, and it really gave that nice bittersweet feeling.
I could also easily go on about the worldbuilding, which was fantastic. All the cities, jungles, different races were detailed and wonderful to imagine. But there were also details on the magic and history of the world, without it being too much. That’s a great balance to achieve.
A final note: while Nolyn is part of a series, all the books in this series will tell the story of a legendary person that was mentioned in some of the other series from Sullivan. So these stories do read as if they were a standalone.
To conclude: if you love epic fantasy with great writing, a rich world, and compelling characters, read Nolyn.
Light Chaser by Peter F. Hamilton and Gareth L. Powell
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi Space Opera
I received an arc in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley and Tordotcom.
What’s it about?
Amahle is a Light Chaster, an explorer who travels the universe alone (except for their onboard AI), trading trinkets for life stories. When she listens to the stories, she hears the same voice talking directly to her from different times and on different worlds. She realizes something terrible is happening, and she is the only one who can do anything about it. And it will cost everything to put it right.
On the storyline
I did find the first chapter to be somewhat confusing. It seemed somewhat vague to me, and I didn’t know what was going on. I’m not sure why the authors went with that choice; I think it might’ve made more sense to put it near the end.
But the 2nd chapter made sense again, and from that point on it was a very enjoyable story. The mystery part of it was fun. I kept wondering who the voice actually was, what dangerous thing was happening, and if Amahle should trust the voice or not.
The worldbuilding was definitely interesting. We get to see different types of planets with a variety of civilizations. I also liked the idea of the memory collars and the nudge it gave to reality tv. Amahle basically bingewatches people’s lives, only to give the collars to people who will do the same thing. Almost like we’re keeping up with the Kardashians, eh?
The scope of worldbuilding that was put in is especially impressive if you consider that it’s a novella.
There were also some other compelling themes in the book, such as memory as identity, the potential dangers of technological advancements (but also of stagnation), and the concept of soulmates and reincarnation.
The story does make you think and reflect on your life and it’s meaning. What would people think if they saw my life through that memory collar? Am I living the best life possible?
That’s some deep stuff.
What I didn’t like as much
The ending was nice, although I’m still not entirely sure what or how that happened or how in the hell that was possible. And again, I feel they really shouldn’t have done that first chapter—that really was way too confusing and almost made me not read further—but just explained that bit at the appropriate time where they actually did it.
I also didn’t really feel that connected to Amahle. On the one hand, she was a nice character, who did her job, and tried to do the right thing, but I felt that a lot of her growth was stuffed into a few paragraphs. So, some of the stuff she did later on, didn’t always quite make sense to me.
Either way, if you’re looking for a fun afternoon read where you’ll visit multiple planets along with a bit of mystery: Light Chaser is the book for you.
Other Blog Posts
New On This Blog
🍁 Want more space adventure novels in your life? Check out this list with Sci-Fi space adventures that are sure to hit the spot!
🍁 What’s gonna be new in September? Check out the 16 Best New Fantasy & Sci-Fi Book Releases of September 2021
Book Recommendations, Reviews & Bookish stuff on other blogs
🍁 If you’re looking for a YA fantasy on friendship, tarot, and found family, check out this review for All Our Hidden Gifts.
🍁 For an imaginative retelling of the Piper fairy tale, read this review.
🍁 As someone who loved the witness for the dead, I’m quite certain I’ll also love the Goblin Emperor (it’s added to my ever-growing tbr). Want to know if you’ll love it, too? Read this review.
🍁 This post makes a case for why you should read the night circus. And I must say it’s compelling.
🍁 Stuck in a reading slump? This post gives 6 tips to get out of it!
🍁 And last but not least, here’s some recommendations if you love some romance stories with vampires!
It's a Wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my reviews or any of the other recommendations and blog-posts I linked here in my August 2021 reading wrapup. I hope it helps you choose your next read for September.
So, what will I be reading in September?
I’m actually going on a holiday in September, so hopefully I’ll get to read loads!
In any case, I’ve finally started with book #2 from the Storm’s Rising series.
Another Beast’s Skin & Crossbones are also on the list.
And if I can swing it, I started reading Tender is the Flesh, so hopefully I’ll manage to finish that one as well.
What books did you read in August? Any favorite?
And what are you going to read in September?
Let me know in the comments!