New year, new monthly posts.
I have been writing monthly wrap-ups since I first started writing this blog, but I don’t think I’m going to continue this year. I review every book I read, and wrap-ups are kind of redundant.
So in 2019 I’m going to talk about what I did, what I read, what happened – without a structure like the one I used for wrap-ups. It could fail immediately because I might not have much to write about every month, but lately I’ve found writing wrap-ups boring, so why not try something different?
I usually don’t talk much about what happens in my life outside this blog – blogging is supposed to be fun for me and for those who read what I write. But if something worth mentioning happens, I will talk about it, especially if it’s in any way related to books (but this section won’t necessarily appear on every monthly post).
This January, I spent an afternoon at my city’s botanical garden, and it just confirmed that:
- tree ferns are some of the most beautiful things in the world (and I would have spent more time in that greenhouse, but the humidity was too much)
- fantasy books really should have more plant magic in them, plant magic that doesn’t stop at “creepy vaguely-broadleaf wood”. There’s so much potential. Medicinal plants? Creepy crawling vines? Pine processionary horror? (I would also love to read about something like creepy pinecones, because I’m like that)
- A dendrophobic person who likes botany sounds like a joke, but my phobia isn’t that bad anymore, if not in specific circumstances. Which is something.
Books I Read: Highlights
I don’t need to talk about everything I read this month again! I have already reviewed – or will review – the books I’ve read this month. This month I didn’t read as much as usual (4 novels, of which 2 were ARCs, 3 graphic novels and 2 short stories) but I expected it.
↬ Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter
Have you ever read a book and thought “this is going to get so many bad reviews”? Because this is going to get so many bad reviews. I’m not saying this just because Sarah Porter’s books are always polarizing – I mean, they usually have less than 3.5 as average rating on goodreads – but also because this book is being compared to The Cruel Prince and it’s so not like The Cruel Prince. It’s not even really a fairy story – yes, there are fairies, but it’s mostly about a codependent relationship between two siblings and them getting out of that situation. That synopsis is so misleading.
- I think this book is very important. We need stories about messed up teenagers finding a way out just as much as we need unproblematic characters – and this is a story about queer characters getting out of unhealthy relationships and into healthy ones. The main character’s arc revolves around self-hate and it’s so well-written! For a book that is so ugly and uncomfortable, it has a beautiful message.
- This is going to be very polarizing, and it would have been even without all the comparisons to The Cruel Prince and the misleading synopsis. It’s not going to work for to those who have a problem with teenagers doing and thinking the wrong things for most of the book before actual character development happens – and it’s disturbing enough that I feel like many readers will DNF before getting to it.
- Content warnings for foster brother/sister incest, codependency, parental neglect, emotional abuse, sexual assault, on-page death, body horror, mentions of suicide.
- My full review will be posted closer to release date (which is on March 19).
↬ The Long Road by Heidi Heilig
This is a short story by the author of one of the best YA fantasy books I have read in 2018 (For a Muse of Fire) and the only story I was interested in out of the Unbroken anthology (edited by Marieke Nijkamp).
- it follows a bipolar Chinese girl, Lihua, who is traveling through a desert with her family to get to Persia, where they hope to find a cure.
- It’s about the weight of other people’s unrealistic expectations you feel when you are mentally ill – it’s about letting go of that weight, about learning to only care about the people who care about you, and finding a community.
- I love the way Heidi Heilig writes about mental illness in fantasy, the way she portrays how being mentally ill affects your family as well – without making the story about the main characters’ families.
- Since this is a short story and I’m not going to review it elsewhere: a solid ★★★★
↬ Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy by JY Yang – Read it here!
I’ve found a new favorite short story! (Well, novelette, technically.) I didn’t find one that wasn’t related to an anthology in all of 2018 and I’m so glad I found this. I think I like it even more than this author’s Waiting on a Bright Moon, which I also love with all of my being.
- It’s a story about a knife-throwing haunted girl named Lynette, whom I loved, and the ghost boy who haunted her during the worst year of her life, who helped her through a difficult time when she was a teen. Now that Lynette is an adult woman, he has come back. Also, it features a helpful witch and a mysterious fanatic hunter.
- This book gets something I’ve been dealing with recently, something I’ve never seen in fiction before: when something from your past, especially early adolescence, comes back to haunt you, and you want to claim it as yours and really don’t want to at the same time. That weird mix of shame and nostalgia and belonging.
- I get it! I kind of wish I didn’t but I get it, so much. When things you thought you had left behind keep coming back up and you don’t even know how you feel about that.
- It’s beautifully written and vaguely witch-y in the best way, and the atmosphere has that kind of rotten ruin charm that I love, especially in stories that have vague tones of aquatic horror.
- Trigger warning for death of gay characters. Now, I usually would have a problem with this – the main characters’ sexuality isn’t stated (if it was, I missed it) and you could assume everyone but [dead guy] is straight, but honestly: I don’t want to police what openly queer authors who usually write all-queer casts do with their stories and I assumed everyone to be queer anyway, but I recognize it could bother someone.
- Since this is a short story and I’m not going to review it elsewhere: ★★★★★, definitely.
Interesting Book-related News
Tor cover reveals
There have been three cover reveals I’ve been anticipating for a while from Tor. Two of them are Gideon the Ninth and The Monster of Elendhaven, which are both dark gay books involving corpses and necromancy and that’s all I need to know.
The other one is Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh, which is being described as Uprooted meets Witchmark (I gave five stars to both) and it looks like it’s going to be a gay plant magic book!
Other Cover Reveals I Liked
↬ Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor
So an author who has been vocal about the importance of aro and ace representation for a while is publishing a very queer sci-fi book in October, and now it has a cover! I have my own doubts about YA sci-fi as usual, but I’m hesitantly hopeful.
↬ Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu, an upcoming f/f (edit: not f/f, one of the main characters is actually genderqueer) graphic novel, got a really cute cover.
↬ Rivers Solomon’s new afrofuturistic novel The Deep has a cover and it’s gorgeous! I love everything that promises marine animals and maybe it will finally be the time I actually like a book with mermaids as main characters!
This month was also announced the new Shadow & Bone/Six of Crows TV show. My feelings on that are… complicated, because of my own relationship with watching things on screens (Anxiety Time!) and because I’m always worried when something I love gets adapted. Anyway, it’s great that this universe is getting the recognition it deserves.
I started two new series of posts this month. One of them is, of course, this one. The other is the Out of My Comfort Zone series, in which I read books/genres/formats I’m not used to. I wrote a post about comics and one about audiobooks.
You might have noticed that I took a short unannounced hiatus this month. That’s because there have been instances of… bad author behavior followed by discourse and then by more discourse and honestly these situations are always stressful. Anyway, I don’t really have the words for this in English, but I’m so glad I went away because I narrowly avoided getting caught into the discourse storm. Still, I hate how the people not involved are misrepresenting the situation, but it’s not like I can do anything about it.
↬ How was January for you?
↬ Have you read/are you anticipating any of these books?
↬ What is a trope that you’d like to see more often in fantasy books?
↬ Any short stories (in anthologies and not) you’ve read lately that are worth reading?
↬ Have you ever been misled by a synopsis?