Spring is Here

And so am I! Mostly. I wouldn’t say I’m back exactly, but the blog is back online for the time being.

I decided I was going to be mostly offline back November for my own sanity. Predictably, at least in hindsight, I ended up liking how that felt. After a while, I also found another time-occupying thing to do online that has nothing to do with books or social media (and requires me to write in Italian: my English got worse); then, with exams and everything, I kind of lost contact with the English booksphere. But while I don’t miss certain aspects of this place – the overwhelming American nature of it, and everything that concerns “book twitter” as an entity more than the people themselves – I do miss talking about books with people.

(Yes this was up yesterday for a few hours, yes that was a mistake)

What Does This Mean?

I’m around again: though not even nearly as often, and I hope my relationship with this place will be different. You can read most of what was going wrong in this post I wrote last fall; I don’t want to feel like that again.

A smaller TBR: I’m deleting most YA books I know I won’t pick up anytime soon, those I expect I’d give around 3.5 stars; I don’t have the time to try things I know I won’t love. My goodreads TBR is currently around 110 and I hope to get it under 100… somehow (I don’t think that will happen)

Broom season just begun!

I’m not sure which broom this one is exactly (bad: I definitely should!) but it’s the only broom in bloom™ in the shrubland right now. The ginestra spinosa/spiny broom (Calicotome spinosa) and the ginestra di Spagna/Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) aren’t quite there yet, which only means we will have different but very similar species of brooms in bloom™ for a few months. Does that have anything to do with books? No and I don’t care, they’re pretty.

What about books?

This should, after all, be a book blog…!

I haven’t read much. I’ve been listening to the same book since the end of last year, Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone; as far as reading-through-words-on-a-screen, I haven’t been doing any of it for the sake of my eyesight. I’m liking this absurd space opera, even though I find it way too easy to follow – when it comes to adult sci-fi, I want my brain to hurt, otherwise it’s just not good worldbuilding to me.

A brief list of my thoughts so far:

  • I appreciate the gay. a lot.
  • there’s such a thing as too much action & this book really isn’t afraid of being too much
  • sometimes it feels like superhero fiction and that’s not really my thing
  • it would give the judgemental bores who made “mary sue checklists*” a stroke and that’s good, I approve
  • I’m around halfway through and my #1 wish for the story is “get weirder”
  • not that it isn’t weird at all, but you know, there’s Room for Improvement

*I don’t know how much of a common experience it is, but when I found those “how not to write a mary sue” advice posts at 15 I took them very seriously, when 90% of what they said is fuffa (Italian; means something between crap and empty and vapid and right now I can’t find the right English word).

However, I have read some short fiction (of course I have, whose blog do you think you’re reading, etc) and the two most memorable stories were:

I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You by Karin Tidbeck (Strange Horizons, 2013): I tried it because I was curious about the author’s translated novel, Amatka, given that I’ve been wanting to know more about non-English fiction lately.
It follows a woman who is undergoing psychiatric treatment and is asked to try the “latest experimental therapy”, the Sadgoat: she is literally assigned a goat to care for, and it even seems to work… but something else might be going on. This is the kind of story that I recommend to other fans of weird, ambiguous short fiction that is more about a feeling than about the underlying mechanisms of something. It wouldn’t satisfy the kind of reader who is always looking for definite answers, but if you’ve ever had to deal with psychiatrists’ tendencies to… obfuscate, and the feeling that gives you – this is perfect. It’s also a really interesting twist on the concept of scapegoat, and I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

Then there’s Seven Night for Dying by Tessa Gratton (in Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite by Zoraida Córdova e Natalie C. Parker). I have no interest in the whole anthology but the editors were so kind to put Gratton’s story at the beginning so I could read all of it on google play without buying the book. Anyway. This was everything I’ve ever wanted from a YA vampire story. It’s bold, it feels like it shouldn’t be happening but you want it to, and I can feel why the main character is drawn to the vampires. The concept might not even be that original, the vampire lore is what we’re used to, but that doesn’t matter at all: it’s written so well that it just comes alive, and its structure – short snippets that are just slightly ambiguous at times – makes it a quick but memorable read with a strong atmosphere and forbidden feel to it. Also, reading about a girl who is given a choice when choices are all but a given in these stories – not when it comes to teenage girls and the dangerous allure of “turning” – has its own meaning. I wish I could get more, but it’s perfect as it is.

A Short List of Interesting Stuff

Two non-fiction posts I didn’t necessarily agree with on all points but that I did find really interesting to read:

  • The Trouble With Easy Criticism by Ritesh Babu: I don’t know anything about most of the things this post references, as it’s about a completely different sphere of media, but I do feel like my ideas and trashed posts about projection and today’s reviewing culture + the ones about not liking some of my old reviews were going for something like this, partly, but not fully – there are some parts of this I don’t really feel. It’s Complicated and that’s why I remember this post.
  • And, to talk about complicated: Complications and Contradictions: All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil, review by Alex Brown on Tor.com. Someday I’ll be able to fully unpack my feelings about this book; in the meantime, I really recommend this review and appreciate it for not taking the easy way out, which is condemning the book.

What About You?

As I said, I didn’t keep up with anything. Please tell me about the best books you’ve read in the last ~5 months, or tell me about your best posts, or anything like that – I want to know!

Also: December was such a weird time for me that I didn’t even think about it, but: my “best of 2020” post never went up, would you be interested in reading it even though it’s April and there’s nothing on there you can’t guess? Let me know; as far as the rest, I hope my next post here won’t be as late as this one has been.

6 thoughts on “Spring is Here

  1. I’m so glad you’re back and i hope to be back soon too (but right now I’m thinking it can’t be like before because evidently something wasn’t working…. we’ll see though).

    I was in Italy all March and i was Extremely Surprised to see brooms blooming so early! It was lovely, i miss them and I’m sad we don’t have them here (at least in the city, not sure elsewhere because I don’t go anywhere else).

    I will DM you books you have to read on twitter later this week when I’m not feeling like an amoeba, even though I don’t think there were lots of “unmissable” ones that i read. Also, i still think you should post your favorites from 2020 because why not? Time means nothing anymore anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same. I haven’t said it explicitly but I’m no longer here to review things for publishing’s sake and have no interest in ARCs; it’s just not worth it. I hope that between no new ARCs and not being here as much something will make enough of a difference for me to actually like what I do when I’m here!

      I wish I knew how to find brooms in bloom™ in Germany but I have no idea, the thing about botany courses is that we almost only talk about la flora italiana if we’re lucky, a lot of this year’s geobotany course is about… Ligurian plants. As if they expect all of us to find work here, which, lmao
      (And I’m sad we missed each other, il tempismo è la mia specialità)

      Also yes, DM me when you feel better! I really haven’t been able to keep up with anything and my TBR needs to have Less Rust on it

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Acqua so glad to see your posting again after your hiatus!! Very happy for you prioritizing your tbr too, honestly manga has truly helped my reading this year, I’ve gotten back into lots of fun new series and I’m trying to catch up on backlist books too. I recently loved Fat Chance Charlie Vega (YA Contemporary), its one of my favorites.

    You should totally share your best of 2020, you always have such great recommendations! 😌💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 💕 I’ll try to get the best of 2020 post published between this week and the next.
      And that’s good to know about Fat Chance, Charlie Vega! I hadn’t heard of it before, I’m really not up to date about new releases…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. just saw the notification for your latest review (it was wonderful, btw. i never heard of the book before but now i want to check it out) and my first thought was “wait you’re back!!”. i’m really glad you’re around again even if you’re not going to post often, your posts are always a joy to read.

    i’ve taken a break from twitter and blogging and reading since *checks blog* december because of uni so i’m as out of the loop as you are (apparently becky albertalli just released a new book? why does this feel so out-of-nowhere) but i wasn’t active in the booksphere last year either so i definitely would be interested to know about your best reads of 2020 👀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the review. I hope I’ll be able to put together the post about favorites before May – I’ve had to cut back on screen time for health reasons and not having the time to truly sit down and write is limiting me a lot.

      And same, even before my break I wasn’t as active as I was in 2019 (…and tbh not hearing in real time about the latest example of terrible author and/or publisher behavior was good for me.) I somehow completely missed the Albertalli news, yes it feels kind of weird

      Also I hope you’ll have the time to write sometimes, I miss reading your posts! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

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