Tag · Wrap-Up

Half a Wrap-Up, but Also Not, and Half an Award Post

What is today’s post? I don’t know either, and in any case, categories are overrated.

Rules? On my blog?

In theory, this started out as a Liebster Award post, which has its own rules, but you know what? I don’t feel like coming up with facts about myself or questions to tag other people for, but I do feel like writing something and this is what you get.

The good news is, a review of Over the Woodward Wall should be here this week, because yes, I finally started something again after taking another unintentional break during September’s exam season. However, there won’t be a specific wrap-up post coming this month, because I read exactly two novellas and nothing else. No, the wrap-up will be right here because no one can stop me.

September was mostly a month of me using every opportunity to get out of the house as often as possible, because getting some practice in existing outside is a good idea when you had to spend the first months of the year leaning into your agoraphobia due to pandemic reasons. Also, I’m still making friends with the cats, and the outside in itself is a really beautiful place sometimes:

After exam season ended, (online) lessons have started again, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do this in the next months. Another unrelated things that has changed is that I’m learning how to cook fish more by myself now! I’m now the designated fish buyer and cleaner in the house (can do both completely on my own), because that’s what a marine ecology course is good for, and the shark dissection we did in class back in January means that certain things don’t faze me much anymore.

As far as books, I read two novellas, Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling and Over the Woodward Wall by Seanan McGuire. Of the first, I already have a review up, and I mostly thought it was fine but not that memorable – maybe I didn’t understand it fully – but I did appreciate how messed up it was. About the second one, I was again not sure of what it was trying to achieve or what it was even trying to be target audience-wise, but finding the parallels between it and Middlegame was a fun experience.

The Liebster Award Questions and Their Answers

I was tagged by laurel @ the suspected bibliophile. Thank you!

What is your favorite carbonated drink?

Water, I guess? That’s pretty much all I drink, and sparkling water doesn’t bother me – which on the US-dominated internet seems to be an unpopular opinion. At least, I’ve seen a lot of people talk about it as if it were Water From Hell, when to me it’s perfectly fine; I just won’t seek it out deliberately.
(Well, we also make banana + cocoa smoothies after dinner sometimes here, but that’s more of a dessert than a drink. Now that would be a nightmare if carbonated.)

How has the pandemic affected your coping skills?

There would be a lot to say, but I don’t feel like writing it down. Something relevant to this blog is that I find it more difficult to get into books, which was one of the reasons I had to put down Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston earlier this week even though I was liking it – I’m finding it difficult to read adult SFF at all. I hope that changes soon.

Do you have a library card? And do you use it?

No. Local libraries’ concept of a “fantasy section” is made up of three beaten up copies of an Italian fantasy series from around 2005, the entirety of Twilight, and either an old edition of The Lord of the Rings or a random A Song of Ice and Fire novel (probably not the first one, you won’t be that lucky). It’s not very useful.

What are the top five books you’ve read so far in 2020?

I don’t feel like ranking them, so I’m going to say them in the order I read them: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (I don’t think I’ve ever annotated a book this much), The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (the way this was written just Gets Me), The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders (unforgettable, rightly monstrous), the short story Always the Harvest by Yoon Ha Lee (well-intentioned body horror… best romance), and Night Shine by Tessa Gratton (also unforgettable and rightly monstrous, because I have a type). Only two of them are novels, because I don’t want to spoil the whole “favorite novel of the year” post! That’s my favorite post to write.

What are the five books you cannot stop recommending to people?

I think I’ve recommended Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong to all people asking me about queer short fiction over the years and I stand by it – it’s about murderous Asian vampire-like creatures in a messed up F/F/F love triangle and it’s one of the most memorable short stories I’ve ever read.

Other than that, I can’t really think of anything I’ve recommended to many people? I know several people have read Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee and Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter because of me, but I wasn’t actively recommending these books to them – it’s just that I talked about both a lot on my blog. Also, I convinced people IRL to read Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (and back when I was in high school, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente), and not much else…

Do you write? If so, what’s your current work in progress?

No. But I’d like to – I have a work in progress which will most definitely never get written. So far, it exists as a prologue (I think they’re nice actually) and a piece of a first chapter. As for what it is about: what happens when the quintessential magical YA heroine, after completing the quintessential girl power YA novel arc (minus the romance) and defeating evil, decides that she and her devout following have to create an all-girl utopia in the woods? Yes, this is about cults. (And religious trauma, and reactionary conformist thought masquerading as “feminism”, but let’s not get too into that yet.)

The YA-heroine-type character isn’t the PoV character, that would be boring, and I wouldn’t describe this idea as YA – they’re already older and I didn’t make it up with teens as a main audience in mind. I love this story and where it goes, but I don’t think that of my English, so I don’t know if I’ll ever actually finish even a first draft.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled? Was it for yourself or someone else?

Sometimes I look up unusual or even straight up cursed-sounding food combinations to see if there’s anyone who has ever actually tried that, or if it isn’t even as unusual or cursed-sounding of a combination as it actually seems to me. One of my favorites can be translated as (I look them up in Italian) “clam profiterole“. I didn’t find a result for that, but I did find recipes by looking up the variant “clam chowder cream puffs“, so!

The clam cream puffs from the recipe I found weren’t meant to be sweets, but my idea of “clam profiterole”, or to be an Italian, “bignè alle vongole”, was absolutely meant to be a sweet pastry – what if you bit into a regular cream puff and there was a whole clam inside the cream? Without the shell, because of course I’m not a monster 🙂

What is your favorite fall (or spring) activity?

Last year it was impulse-buying cacti, the year before it was [depressive episode static noise], who knows what this year will bring?

the only one of my cacti that has ever bloomed

What is your most paranormal experience?

There’s no experience that stands out. However, being surrounded by [phobia trigger] can do really weird things to my perception of reality. I wouldn’t call it paranormal but it sure feels like it.

Besides reading/blogging, what are your hobbies?

Before the pandemic it was “underwater photography” – by which I mean snorkeling with a waterproof camera near underwater rocks; I can’t scuba dive, but there’s a surprising amount of interesting stuff one can find near the surface, including morays. This year, I haven’t been able to go to the beach at all. Now, it’s… Pokémon Go. Which is fun but also makes me sad because real fish were better.

Serranus scriba (“painted comber”), one of my favorites to photograph – it turns to stare at you instead of fleeing when followed. Also, look at the patterns on its head!

Which Chris is the best Chris?

The actors? I don’t know anything about their personalities or what they do, because I… watch approximately one movie a year and usually don’t even know the names of the actors in it. One of the many ways I live under a rock! As far as looks, I don’t find them interesting.

How was this month for you? Have you read any of these books? Do you also have an Overly Specific Role if you live together with other people? And, most importantly, would you eat the clam profiterole?

11 thoughts on “Half a Wrap-Up, but Also Not, and Half an Award Post

    1. I’m glad you liked this mess! It was really fun to write, thank you for the questions.
      Finding the energy for anything more complex or darker than “average YA level of worldbuilding/violence” right now really is a struggle, and especially I hadn’t noticed just how much of SFF included pandemic storylines or backstories in some way until this year….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You dissected a shark! And are now the designated fish person! Amazing!

    Your story sounds very cool! Part of the concept – the whole “what happens after we’ve saved the world bit” – reminds me of The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth, which I’ve not read but have heard good things about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t dissect the shark myself, that was the marine ecology professor! We just had to… witness up close, which still makes for a not easily forgettable morning

      I haven’t read Chosen Ones either, but I think we’re going to see more of that type of story as fantasy becomes more… trauma-aware as a genre? I think the Wayward Children series also fits that. I wish we saw more of that done for the characters relegated to the sidelines, for the long-term effects of being around a charismatic human with superpowers (inherently terrifying concept tbh), because we’re probably never actually going to see my book
      Anyway, I’m glad you liked the concept!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This was a really fun post to read! And I totally understand what you mean about not wanting to tag people, think of questions, or follow the so-called “rules” of Awards like the Liebster Award. I’m the same way. Sometimes these things are like, “Tag 15 people,” and I’m like, “Dude, I don’t think I even KNOW 15 people, much less 15 people I feel comfortable tagging,” you know what I mean?

    Also, I’m really interested in hearing the rest of your thoughts on Over the Woodward Wall by Seanan McGuire. I just recently added it to my TBR because I thought the premise sounded really intriguing, but Seanan McGuire’s stuff has so far been a hit-or-miss sort of thing with me. So we’ll see. Anyways, thanks again for such a lovely post! I enjoyed it a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same – I don’t think I know that many active bloggers.
      About Over the Woodward Wall: it is to middle grade what the Wayward Children series is to YA, by which I mean it’s technically an adult book but it doesn’t feel like one at all. I’d mostly recommend it to people who have read and liked Middlegame, because for me the most interesting part was finding the parallels between the two.
      And thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, as a librarian, it always hurts me a little to read about unhelpful libraries in other countries. Too bad! The City in the Middle of the Night is on my TBR – perhaps I should prioritize it in my 2021 TBR (though I’m not really ready to think about that yet 😬). Your WIP has a really cool premise. I love the themes that you’d be exploring in it. Thanks for sharing your answers to these questions. I usually find Liebster posts kind of dull but this was entertaining to read! (I would not eat the clam profiterole, mostly because I don’t like clams…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …I love both clams and profiteroles, but I wouldn’t eat my version of the clam profiterole if someone paid me to do it 😀
      And I’m glad to hear that! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make it become an actual book, but it’s nice that at least in theory it sounds interesting to others too.
      (Also yes the concept of 2021 being so close is kind of terrifying. This year feels like a month and a decade at the same time)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wanted to comment something nice but then I had to read “bigné alle vongole” so I’m feeling less inclined now 🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♀️😭😭😭 Acqua pls fjdjdhfjd

    Biosfera!! 💕 also your wip sounds awesome 🥺🥺🥺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. see, this is my brand of evil! food horror!

      Sono passata di nuovo dalla biosfera questa mattina (raid alla fine del pontile, avevo del tempo da perdere) e ho finalmente visto gli uccelli da fuori anche io invece di solo le tracce ldkjfjk all’inizio pensavo fossero finti perché erano troppo colorati ma no, gli ibis rossi sono davvero così rossi

      and I’m glad you liked the book idea! I keep making up scenes for it and writing 0% of it down but who knows…


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