Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For August, we’re looking at science fiction about robots who are out of the loop, a history of the efforts to save endangered species, a tale that is equal parts family mystery and historical fiction, and an audiobook featuring a coming-of-age high fantasy.
If you love thoughtful science fiction:
Becky Chambers’s A Psalm for the Wild-Built (2021)
In Panga, robots are the stuff of urban legend. Once upon a time, a long time ago, they wandered off into the woods, never to return. Now that’s obviously one way to make an impression. Centuries later, a tea monk is startled to see a robot in the, well, flesh. The robot wants to check in, per an old promise, and know what people want before returning to his fellow robots. But finding the answer to such a seemingly simple question is easier said than done. . . .
First book in the new Monk and Robot series.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of David Mitchell, Matt Haig, Cixin Liu, and Charlie Jane Anders.
If you like nonfiction:
Michelle Nijhuis’s Beloved Beasts (2021)
Longtime scientific and environmental journalist Michelle Nijuhuis chronicles the good and bad of the history of the modern conservation movement, including its movers and shakers, in this new release. Rather than penning a dry historical narrative or leaning heavily on a structure that profiles each endangered animal she intends to cover, she focuses each chapter on a specific story and the result covers everything from the founding of the Audubon Society to the efforts to save whooping cranes from extinction.
Recommended for those who enjoy reading books that are an intersection of both science and history.
If you prefer historical fiction full of family secrets:
Amy Mason Doan’s Lady Sunshine (2021)
The summer of 1979 was the best summer ever for Jackie . . . until it wasn’t. She spent it at her uncle’s estate on the California coast. It was where artists and musicians gathered and where Jackie became close friends with her cousin Willa. But then Willa disappeared.
When she inherits the estate 20 years later and is ready to quickly sell it, Jackie is surprised to learn that there are already arrangements underway for an album to be recorded there as a tribute to her late uncle. She gives permission to halt her plans until the promised album can be made. However, as musicians flock to the estate to begin recording, she starts to notice eerie parallels to that long-ago summer. Complications ensue.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Kristin Hannah.
If you want an audiobook and enjoy high fantasy:
Sarah Beth Durst’s The Bone Maker (2021)
I might be weird–that is a strictly rhetorical statement I don’t want answered–but I sometimes find myself torn on series. On one hand, a good series means more books to look forward to, but on the other hand, knowing there are more books ahead can make the idea of even starting the series seem like an insurmountable task. I often battle this feeling when contemplating starting a fantasy series full of books that look like doorstops.
If you have the same hesitation or just enjoy a good fantasy standalone novel on its own merits, try this latest from Sarah Beth Durst. It starts with the premise that stories don’t just end because someone says “The End.”
Case in point, twenty-five years ago, Kreya, her husband, and her comrades fought an epic battle against Eklor, a rogue magician who crafted a human army from animal bones. Though Kreya and her friends won, it was at a bitter price but ostensibly the end of the story. However, it’s not. They remain haunted by the war, especially Kreya, who lost her husband. When she begins to dabble in dark magic with bones in the hopes of bringing back her husband, she thinks she can return to the battlefield of her youth to find the ingredients she needs. In the process, she makes a horrifying discovery that will jolt all the past heroes out of their current everyday lives.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Erika Johansen and J.R.R. Tolkien.
What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.