Most Anticipated: September 2021
I’m going to start off by saying I read 8 out of the 10 books I recommended in August, which, frankly, I think is some kind of record for me. I doubt that’ll be possible with the whopping *sixteen* books I’m looking forward to in September. I’m guessing this is the big pre-holiday season rush, but it’s hard to complain when there’s so many good books coming out.
Here’s my list of sixteen books I’m looking forward in September!
Tell Me Anything – Skye Kilaen (September 2)
Isabel meets Derek at exactly the wrong time… or is it exactly right?
Can Isabel return this year for a refund? Because it sucks. Her editing business would be paying her bills just fine… if her ex-boyfriend wasn’t blackmailing her. Of course, if her conservative family wouldn’t disown her for being bisexual, her ex couldn’t blackmail her in the first place. Sadly, she hasn’t invented time travel to un-make the mistake that created this mess.
Derek has a good life. Mostly. He’s an out bisexual man with a successful business and a loving queer found family. But he’s almost forty, living alone is getting stale, and yet dating seems pointless since nobody’s ever found him exciting enough to build a life with. Given he’s now doing zero-creativity craft kits to pass the time, he suspects they’re right. Maybe he should get a dog.
Isabel isn’t holding auditions for a rescuer, and she wouldn’t have expected Derek, a gorgeous, gentle man with his own history of family rejection, to fill the role. But Derek’s “boring” life is the calm harbor Isabel needs, and her affection helps Derek see himself in a new light. Their tentative connection might become the happily ever after they both deserve—if they can hold onto it through the fallout from Isabel’s recent romantic disaster.
WHY?: I trust Skye Kilaen to rip me open and then sew me back up again, and this sounds like peak hurt/comfort to me.
The All-Consuming World – Cassandra Khaw (September 7)
A diverse team of broken, diminished former criminals get back together to solve the mystery of their last, disastrous mission and to rescue a missing and much-changed comrade… but they’re not the only ones in pursuit of the secret at the heart of the planet Dimmuborgir. The highly-evolved AI of the universe have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes to keep humans from ever controlling the universe again. This band of dangerous women, half-clone and half-machine, must battle their own traumas and a universe of sapient ageships who want them dead, in order to settle their affairs once and for all.
Cassandra Khaw’s debut novel is a page-turning exploration of humans and machines that is perfect for readers of Ann Leckie, Ursula Le Guin, and Kameron Hurley.
WHY?: Rescue mission, AIs, and it’s queer! Plus those read-alikes are woooow.
Among Thieves – M.J. Kuhn (September 7)
A high-stakes heist novel set in a gritty world of magic and malice
In just over a year’s time, Ryia Cautella has already earned herself a reputation as the quickest, deadliest blade in the dockside city of Carrowwick—not to mention the sharpest tongue. But Ryia Cautella is not her real name.
For the past six years, a deadly secret has kept her in hiding, running from town to town, doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of the formidable Guildmaster—the sovereign ruler of the five kingdoms of Thamorr. No matter how far or fast she travels, his servants never fail to track her down…but even the most powerful men can be defeated.
Ryia’s path now leads directly into the heart of the Guildmaster’s stronghold, and against every instinct she has, it’s not a path she can walk alone. Forced to team up with a crew of assorted miscreants, smugglers, and thieves, Ryia must plan her next moves very carefully. If she succeeds, her freedom is won once and for all…but unfortunately for Ryia, her new allies are nearly as selfish as she is, and they all have plans of their own.
WHY?: It’s a fantasy heist with a bunch of morally grey characters (lady pirate!) and it’s gay.
The Charm Offensive – Alison Cochrun (September 7)
Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.
WHY?: Look, I’m not a fan of reality dating shows, but that cover is adorable and the blurb sounds like my sort of catnip. Person who adores HEAs vs person who doesn’t believe they exist? Grabby hands.
No Gods, No Monsters – Cadwell Turnbull (September 7)
One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.
As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.
At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?
The world will soon find out.
WHY?: That blurb gives me the absolute creeps. Yes, yes, I do want to know what’s frightened the monsters!
Witch Please – Ann Aguirre (September 7)
Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls in this adorable witchy rom-com with:
• A bisexual virgin baker with a curse
• A witch looking to avoid romantic entanglements
• And a chemistry between them that causes literal sparks
Danica Waterhouse is a fully modern witch—daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and co-owner of the Fix-It Witches, a magical tech repair shop. After a messy breakup that included way too much family “feedback,” Danica made a pact with her cousin: they’ll keep their hearts protected and have fun, without involving any of the overly opinionated Waterhouse matriarchs. Danica is more than a little exhausted navigating a long-standing family feud where Gram thinks the only good mundane is a dead one and Danica’s mother weaves floral crowns for anyone who crosses her path.
Three blocks down from the Fix-It Witches, Titus Winnaker, owner of Sugar Daddy’s bakery, has family trouble of his own. After a tragic loss, all he’s got left is his sister, the bakery, and a lifetime of terrible luck in love. Sure, business is sweet, but he can’t seem to shake the romantic curse that’s left him past thirty and still a virgin. He’s decided he’s doomed to be forever alone.
Until he meets Danica Waterhouse. The sparks are instant, their attraction irresistible. For him, she’s the one. To her, he’s a firebomb thrown in the middle of a family war. Can a modern witch find love with an old-fashioned mundane who refuses to settle for anything less than forever?
WHY?: As if baking, witches and a bi MC aren’t enough, Ann Aguirre is one of my absolute favorite authors.
Oaths of Legacy – Emily Skrutskie (September 14)
Torn between loyalty and love, a young prince will learn how much he’s willing to sacrifice as he tries to destroy the rebellion that threatens his throne in this exhilarating sequel to Bonds of Brass.
Gal’s destiny has always been clear: complete his training at the military academy, prove his worth as a royal successor, and ascend to the galactic throne. When a failed assassination plot against Gal sends him and Ettian—his infuriatingly enticing roommate—on a mad dash through the stars, Gal’s plans are momentarily disrupted. But he was born to rule the Umber Empire, and with Ettian by his side, nothing will stop him from returning home and crushing the growing insurgency threatening his family’s power.
But nothing is ever that simple in war—or in love. Gal is captured by the rebellion during a skirmish and faces public execution, his grand fate cut short. To save Gal’s life, Ettian does the unthinkable: he reveals himself as the secret heir to the fallen Archon Empire and rightful leader of the rebellion . . . and, therefore, Gal’s sworn enemy. Now a political hostage in this newly-reignited conflict, Gal must use his limited resources to sabotage the rebellion from within, concoct an escape plan, and return to the empire he’s destined to lead. And if that means taking down the man he thought he loved?
All the better.
WHY?: I adored the first book in this series, though to be honest I wanted to smack Gal more on every reread. I’m curious to see if the author can redeem the jerk.
When Sorrows Come – Seanan McGuire (September 14)
Toby’s getting married! Now in hardcover, the fifteenth novel of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling October Daye urban fantasy series.
It’s hard to be a hero. There’s always something needing October “Toby” Daye’s attention, and her own desires tend to fall by the wayside in favor of solving the Kingdom’s problems. That includes the desire to marry her long-time suitor and current fiancé, Tybalt, San Francisco’s King of Cats. She doesn’t mean to keep delaying the wedding, it just sort of…happens. And that’s why her closest friends have taken the choice out of her hands, ambushing her with a court wedding at the High Court in Toronto. Once the High King gets involved, there’s not much even Toby can do to delay things…
…except for getting involved in stopping a plot to overthrow the High Throne itself, destabilizing the Westlands entirely, and keeping her from getting married through nothing more than the sheer volume of chaos it would cause. Can Toby save the Westlands and make it to her own wedding on time? Or is she going to have to choose one over the other?
WHY?: I’ve read this series since the beginning, and TOBY IS GETTING MARRIED!
The Bronze Beasts – Roshani Chokshi (September 21)
Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with the final riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.
In love they breathed. In destiny they believed. In the end, will divinity be their demise?
After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.
Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.
With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself…but at a price they may not be willing to pay.
WHY?: The CLIFFHANGER at the end of the last book?!?!?!?
Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao (September 21)
The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.
To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.
WHY?: Ok but that cover? Wow. Also, Zetian sounds completely badass. Also, it’s poly. Please put this in my eyeballs now.
Seducing the Sorceror – Lee Welch (September 23)
Homeless and jobless, Fenn Todd has nearly run out of hope. All he has left is his longing for horses and the strength of his own two hands. But when he’s cheated into accepting a very ugly sackcloth horse, he’s catapulted into a world of magic, politics and desire.
Fenn’s invited to stay at the black tower, home of the most terrifying man in the realm: Morgrim, the court sorcerer. Morgrim has a reputation as a scheming villain, but he seems surprisingly charming—and sexy—and Fenn falls hard for him.
However, nothing is as it seems and everyone at the tower is lying about something. Beset by evil hexes, violent political intrigue and a horse that eats eiderdowns, Fenn must make the hardest choices of his life.
Can a plain man like Fenn ever find true love with a scheming sorcerer?
WHY?: It feels like that cover is trying to seduce me. Also, that horse.
Activation Degredation – Marina J. Lostetter (September 28)
The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra.
When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat.
But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right.
There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows.
According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know.
Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict.
Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more….
WHY?: I love first contact books, and anything that mentions Murderbot as a comp is an autoread for me.
Dark Rise – C.S. Pascat (September 28)
The ancient world of magic is no more. Its heroes are dead, its halls are ruins, and its great battles between Light and Dark are forgotten. Only the Stewards remember, and they keep their centuries-long vigil, sworn to protect humanity if the Dark King ever returns.
Sixteen-year-old dock boy Will is on the run, pursued by the men who killed his mother. When an old servant tells him of his destiny to fight beside the Stewards, Will is ushered into a world of magic, where he must train to play a vital role in the oncoming battle against the Dark.
As London is threatened by the Dark King’s return, the reborn heroes and villains of a long-forgotten war begin to draw battle lines. But as the young descendants of Light and Dark step into their destined roles, old allegiances, old enmities and old flames are awakened. Will must stand with the last heroes of the Light to prevent the fate that destroyed their world from returning to destroy his own.
WHY?: That cover is gorgeous! It sounds a bit stereotypical good vs evil, but I’ve heard good things about this author.
The Last Graduate – Naomi Novik (September 28)
A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.
At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .
WHY?: I adore this author and I adored A Deadly Education (despite some pretty awful racist bits which I hope have been removed in the newest bit). I loved prickly El and himbo Orion and the whole magic system and and and… Definitely one of my most anticipated books of the year!
Light from Uncommon Stars – Ryka Aoki (September 28)
Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.
Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.
When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.
But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.
As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.
WHY?: You had me at “queer alien courtship.”
The Lights on Knockbridge Lane – Roan Parrish (September 28)
Can one man’s crowded, messy life fill another man’s empty heart?
Raising a family was always Adam Mills’ dream, although solo parenting and moving back to tiny Garnet Run certainly were not. After a messy breakup, Adam is doing his best to give his young daughter the life she deserves—including accepting help from their new, reclusive neighbor to fulfill her Christmas wish.
Though the little house may not have “the most lights ever,” the Mills home begins to brighten as handsome Wes Mobray spends more time there and slowly sheds his protective layers. But when the eye-catching house ends up in the news, Wes has to make a choice: hide from the darkness of his unusual past or embrace the light of a future—and a family—with Adam.
WHY?: Why yes, that is a category romance on this list! I’ve loved the Garnet Run series that this author has done through Carina, and I’m eager to read this one as well!
And that’s my list for the month. What books are you looking forward to?