TBR & Goals

June 2020 TBR

For this month only, the TBR is back!

Given that June is exam month and given the overwhelming nature of 2020, I thought that I should try to add some structure to my day-to-day life, instead of running from it at every turn. I don’t know if it will work; maybe it really will be one of those months in which I end up not reading a word.


Several Degrees of Autobiographical

This is not a category I often reach for, and why not change that?

🏳️‍🌈 My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata – I bought this while going through my “must buy all the gay graphic novels I found in my bookstore” phase, even though I had never read a memoir back then. Now I have, and this looks even more interesting to me, even though I’m afraid I will find it too intense (from skimming it before buying it, I know it dealt with an eating disorder among other things.)

🏳️‍🌈 All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson – I’m not sure what “memoir-manifesto” entails exactly, but it’s about the author’s experiences with being a queer Black man in America, and I think that June is an especially good time to read about real queer people who have experiences different from mine. Also, I’ve already heard many good things about this one from people I follow.

🏳️‍🌈 Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi – I own the Italian translation of this one, Acquadolce, and this just looks like the perfect moment to finally read it after it has been staring at me from my shelf for months. Akwaeke Emezi wrote Pet, one of my favorite books of last year, so I’m really looking forward to this, even though I haven’t yet understood which kind of book Freshwater is. (It’s a novel with autobiographical elements I think? It’s not a memoir. I also have no idea how these genres work.)


Short, Therefore Friendly

Short fiction has been one of the most queer places in publishing for a long while. Also, let’s be honest, there’s no way I’d get through nine novels in a month.

🏳️‍🌈 Finna by Nino Cipri – first, Tor.com novellas are easy to get through, second, I can’t believe I haven’t read the queer [f/non-binary] sci-fi IKEA book. All my friends on goodreads seem to have liked it to a degree, which is also encouraging.

🏳️‍🌈 The Candlevine Gardener and Other Stories by Yoon Ha Lee – this will be my collection of the month, and this time I’m taking a break from short stories and reading a lot of flash fiction instead. After loving Lee’s other queer flash fiction collection The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales last July, I have high hopes for this one.

🏳️‍🌈 The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg – I don’t know much about this, but I have an old ARC and I know it has at least one trans main character (maybe a trans woman? I’m not sure and I haven’t read many reviews) and it’s a novella, so it’s perfect.


Miscellaneous Novels

I’ve found that the best way to induce a slump is having something stressful in real life, while the best way to fight it is variety in genres, so here we are.

🏳️‍🌈 Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender: I think this will be my choice for the audiobook of the month™, as contemporary is the genre I’m more comfortable with reading in this format. Anyway, I tried a chapter of this recently, really liked it, and would say the same of the audio narration (by Logan Rozos).
[Edit: started this morning]

🏳️‍🌈 The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood – I don’t know how I managed to not read this one yet when it’s one of my most anticipated releases of the year… which I’ve had since 2019 because back then I requested every ARC that sounded interesting (I know, the answer to “why haven’t I read this yet” is probably something like “I’m intimidated by things I think I’m going to like”). I should fix that.

🏳️‍🌈 Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller – I’ve had mixed experiences with Linsey Miller so far, and I’m kind of reluctant when it comes to YA fantasy in general, but this has an F/F romance with an asexual mc, and I liked the first chapter back when I tried it, so I’m hopeful.


Have you read or want to read any of these?

TBR & Goals

SapphicAThon #3: TBR

SapphicAThon is back! This is a read-a-thon dedicated to reading sapphic books, hosted by Jami @jamishelves, Elise @thebookishactress and Tash @immortalbanner on twitter. The twitter account of the read-a-thon is here for more information.


The Challenges

Let’s start with the obvious: there’s no way I’m going to read all of these in a week. I’m going to give myself an option for every challenge, but some of them I might complete by counting a book twice instead of actually reading every book I write here – and for some of these I might decide to read a sapphic short story instead.

#1: Reread a book

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I read A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo back in 2017 and loved it; since then, I haven’t read one contemporary mystery novel I’ve actually liked. I want to revisit this to see what about it worked for me that others don’t have (difficult to explain in a way that makes sense why you like a book if you only remember it vaguely), and also because I can’t wait to read about this messed up lesbian love triangle again. It’s shorter than 300 pages, and mysteries are generally easy to get through, so it shouldn’t take me too much time.

#2: Read a graphic novel

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The only two graphic novels left on my TBR are memoirs, so my choice will be Spinning by Tillie Walden – it’s longer than I’m used to in this format, but I already own a physical copy of it, and that’s great because I hate reading graphic novels on a screen and buying physical copies right now might not be easy.

Recommendations!

If you want to participate but are thinking, I can’t come up with any sapphic graphic novel right now, here are my three favorite sapphic graphic novels across genres, because why pass up on the occasion to talk about some of my favorites?

  • Bury the Lede by Gaby Dunn & Claire Roe (adult noir): my underrated fave! About a young journalism intern trying to solve a mystery. It’s full of queer women who do horrible things with a kind of “the end justifies the means” logic; the main character is bisexual. All the characters are the worst and it’s also such a great time.
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (YA contemporary): set in high school, also one of the very few books I know dealing with an abusive relationship involving two girls. The art is gorgeous.
  • Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda (adult dark fantasy): if you marginally know anything about SFF graphic novels, you’ve heard of this one, but a lot of people don’t seem to know it’s sapphic! It is, it’s only that the first two volumes are subtler about it. The third is not. Anyway, steampunk Asian matriarchy full of queer women.

#3: Read a book with a trope you love

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I can’t believe how long it took me to find an answer to this question, as I couldn’t think of either tropes I loved or sapphic books that had them. Then I remembered that one of my favorite things to read about – maybe not exactly a trope, but I say it counts – is anything that blurs the boundary between magic and science, fantasy and sci-fi. The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood is space fantasy, so it’s perfect. I mean, it is for what I said, but it might not be for a readathon because it’s 464 pages of adult SFF, which takes me a while to get through. If I can’t fit it in here, I’ll count A Line in the Dark for this prompt because “F/F/F love triangle” is for sure one of my favorite tropes.

#4: Read a book by an author of color

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For this one, I’m going to pick Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo; I’ve recently discovered that one of the two main characters is a lesbian, and I think there’s an F/F romance. Also, I can’t wait to read Acevedo’s next book, after how much With the Fire on High affected me last year (has any other book ever convinced me to take up a hobby before? No.) It’s written in verse, which means it shouldn’t take me a long time to read, too.

#5: Read a book you got for free

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The Unspoken Name could count for this, as it’s a leftover ARC from one of last year’s netgalley request sprees, and so would The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke, which involves lesbian teen witches and is also an ARC from when I was still requesting them (and if there had been a prompt for “pretty cover”, this would have been the best one). If I can’t manage to get through either, I’ll look for sapphic short stories that are interesting to me, but as I don’t love to make TBRs for short fiction, I’ll choose them as I go.

#6: Read a book that has been on your TBR a long time

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The book that is best described by this prompt is Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, an old, multi-PoV book that was released when I was nine (!!) and has at least one sapphic main character. I don’t know much about it apart from the fact that its plotline revolves around a sexually transmitted city, and isn’t that a remarkable premise. I haven’t read anything by Catherynne M. Valente in a while and I really should fix that, since she wrote some of my favorite books. But again, it’s adult SFF, so it might take me a while and I might choose something shorter if I need to, like a sapphic short story I’ve been wanting to read for a while or something like that.

#7: Free choice

I probably won’t be able to read six books to begin with, much less seven, but if I manage to fulfill some of the above challenges with short fiction I just might. If I get to that point, I’ll leave this one open anyway so that I have the space to choose according to my mood, as that usually helps me not to get stuck.


Will you participate in SapphicAThon? Have you read any of these?

TBR & Goals · Wrap-Up

An April Wrap-Up + Wyrd and Wonder Plans

To give you an idea of how confused I am and how much we are a joke to time itself, I first wrote “May Wrap-Up” and stared at the title of this post for a full ten seconds with the vague awareness that maybe something was off, just a little.


A Brief Life Update

April was exactly like March! Which means it was exactly like the second half of February, which means I haven’t been out of my house in more than two months. Well, there were some different flowers on my balcony, I guess, the prettiest one being this Anemone:

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April as a Reading Month

In April, I read 9 books:

  • 5 new novels, of which one I DNFed halfway through;
  • 2 novellas, of which one was a reread
  • 1 graphic novel
  • 1 anthology.

I also ended up reading 14 short stories (yes, this was one of those months) but I will talk about them in my next short fiction wrap-up and not here.

In terms of quantity, this month was average. In terms of quality, I went from not reading a five star novel for three months to finding five in just a month, so I think I can’t complain. I don’t write ratings in wrap-ups anymore, but I’m going to mark those with a 🐉.

What I Read

39855052 It didn’t start out too well: my first two reads were the Hungry Hearts anthology, that reminded me of how easily lack of cohesion can make an anthology fail (review to come soon), and Crier’s War by Nina Varela, which I DNFed halfway through (not for me).
I then finally read a sequel right after having reread the first book (yay), and read 🐉
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty astonishingly quickly given how long books over 500 pages take me these days. I loved every moment of it, and wow, is fantasy amazing when the author knows how to build interesting and terribly tense interpersonal relationships along with a fascinating world.

48425575._sy475_Then I read an ARC of 🐉 Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, a steampunk novel with folktale-like elements set in a country inspired by Korea under Japanese occupation. It’s easier to follow than Lee’s usual, and the portrayal of what it’s like to be an artist in a colonized country made it stand out (also, it was interesting to see Lee write from the PoV of someone who isn’t a genius, this time). You get all this with a non-binary main character, their pacifist mecha dragon best friend, and a female duelist the main character really shouldn’t be into, but is anyway. I could call this both “delightful and fun” and “bittersweet with some horrifying undertones”, and that’s always the best combination.

Then the Hugo Finalists were announced, and I decided to read some of them for a post I’m putting together with my opinions about this year’s line-up. The first of them was Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher, a cute but forgettable middle grade read about a boy who is a not-so-good mage and his armadillo familiar. I was luckier with my attempt at reading all the nominees in the Best Novel category, where I had only two books to get to:

  •  🐉 The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders wasn’t even on my TBR, but I ended up falling in love with it, which I would have never predicted – I didn’t like anything I tried by Anders before and this didn’t even have that many good reviews from people I follow! I thought it was an incredibly smart book, a story about the downfall of societies and what might work to save humanity on a hostile, tidally locked planet. At its heart is a toxic relationship between two women involving unrequited love and the differences brought by privileged upbringing. The writing and worldbuilding are wonderful, too. My review of this one is neverending because there’s so much to say and couldn’t bring myself to cut any of it out.
  • I finally stopped procrastinating on what was my most anticipated novel for the second half of last year, 🐉 Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and while I loved it deeply, it’s true that having expectations that high is never good (I wanted this to be an all-time favorite! As of now, it’s not). Still, it’s a really great read and just the kind of queer sci-fantasy mashup I love – with a mystery aspect thrown in the mix as well, because this book knows that you never have too many genres (or dated memes, or bones).

1684155061I also ended up reading a graphic novel, Eat and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo & Lilian Klepakowsky, told from the PoV of a woman with an eating disorder as she finds a magical chocolate bar that makes her relive some of the moments in her past that defined the negative relationship she has with herself and her body. It gets how much small, seemingly insignificant moments can have a impact on you as an adult; it explores  the long-term effects of bullying (books that do this are so rare!) and growing up in a casually fatphobic household. The art was great and everything was easy to follow despite the frequent flashbacks. Also, I loved the cat! More comics need to have cats in them.

43549397._sy475_Then I decided to reread Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. Sometimes I get this feelings about books I read a few years ago – in this case, long enough that I was still a minor – that tells me that I might not have understood them. I had liked Binti back in 2017, but hadn’t thought about it often since. In 2019, it got translated in my country, and I had bought a copy of the trilogy because I like to support translations of diverse SFF, and since then I’ve had that feeling, maybe this book is better than I remembered. I don’t feel like that often, but when I do I’m usually right, and this time I was too. I feel like I got what this wanted to say so much more and I’m glad I reread it as an adult.

36292242._sy475_I broke my ARC ban twice this month! For my two most anticipated releases of the year, which I read immediately after getting (my ARC ban exists to avoid accumulation of ARCs aka reading stress), so I’m not too annoyed at myself. The second ARC I got was 🐉 Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust, a fairytale-like fantasy novel set in a country inspired by ancient Persia and Zoroastrian beliefs. I don’t want to say too much about it, because it’s the kind of book I think one should go into without knowing too much, but it was gorgeous and sapphic and maybe I even liked it more than Girls Made of Snow and Glass. Such an interesting twist on the “girl deadly to the touch” premise.


What to Expect in May


Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival 

May is Wyrd and Wonder month! Wyrd and Wonder is a month-long celebration of all things fantasy; if you haven’t heard of it yet, here’s the announcement post.

As I don’t write TBRs anymore, I thought I’d talk about what I’m planning for May here. I don’t know if I’ll actually be reading more fantasy than usual, as I’ve learned  – after trying to make monthly TBRs work for all of last year – that I can’t accurately predict what I’ll want to read, but I know that:

  • on May 6th, my review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (out on July 7th) will be up;
  • on May 11th, a post I’m really excited about, On Rules and Magic Systems, will be up (…with footnotes!) That one was really fun to write, and I hope you’ll find it fun to read as well.
Other Readathons

From May 18th to May 25th SapphicAThon will also be running – my attempt at a weekly TBR will be up sometimes later this month (yes, a weekly TBR sounds more manageable) and I might take Wyrd and Wonder and SapphicAThon as an opportunity to read more F/F fantasy.

May is also the time of both the Tome Topple Readathon (May 9th-22nd) and the Asian Readathon, and while I don’t know if I plan to participate in either (as far as making an actual TBR and following challenges) but that might just be the encouragement I need to read the 600-page tome Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang. Problem is, it wouldn’t count for either SapphicAThon or Wyrd and Wonder, being not sapphic sci-fi. We’ll see.


Have you read any of these? How was April for you? Will you participate in Wyrd and Wonder and/or SapphicAThon?

TBR & Goals · Weekly

#5OnMyTBR — 5 Books Hyped in the Past

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

This week’s topic is Hype from the Past, so books on my TBR that aren’t new releases but are on my TBR.


Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

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This is the first one that came to mind, because I’m currently challenging myself to read all of this year’s Hugo finalists, and this was one of last year’s – I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read it yet, when it’s been on my TBR since 2017.

I started it (and got around two chapters in) during that very unlucky week in November 2019, alongside with Gideon the Ninth, then took a very sudden, unplanned hiatus for more than a month and just forgot about it. But now that I finally picked up Gideon the Ninth back up for the Hugo finalist challenge, I should just remember to get to this as well.


The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

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A moment of honesty: if it weren’t for the fact that I bought it when I knew myself a lot less, this wouldn’t be on my TBR at all, because there are two categories of fantasy stories I firmly don’t get along with, “clearly based on a real tragedy” (think The Poppy War) or “the conflict is driven by homophobia”, which seems to fit this one perfectly.

Still, I have it! And many people like it! I’m torn between curiosity and knowing deep down that this will be a terrible idea, but after all, if I don’t like it I can just put it down like I would with literally any other book. Instead I’m just here acting like its very presence on my shelf will threaten me if only I acknowledge it too much, which is very reasonable of me.


Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

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This was… pretty much half of my friends’ favorite book back in 2018? I still haven’t even tried a chapter of it, for no reason at all but the fact that seeing this book makes me think “oh I’ll get to it later”. It’s not even “I don’t want to get to it”, because I do. Later.

It probably has to do with the fact that at any point in the last two years, the last thing I’ve been wanting to read is “hard-hitting YA contemporary”, even if said book sounds and probably is amazing. I’m giving myself a deadline: if I haven’t read this by the end of the year, off my TBR it goes. No point in keeping it there when I’m clearly never going to read it (unlike Baru, I don’t own it). I hope to prove myself wrong.


Spinning by Tillie Walden

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I’ve known about this for years, and Tillie Walden’s comics are hyped in general, but I wasn’t going to read this until I decided I absolutely had to buy all the queer graphic novels in my bookstore, and so I own it now. I’ve since discovered that I do like memoirs sometimes, so I’m hopeful this will work for me as well. (The only thing that worries me is how long it is, but a graphic novel should be easy to get through.)


The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

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This is significantly less hyped than any of the books on this list, because I don’t have that much backlist on my TBR (don’t get me wrong: I’m not good at getting to backlist. I’m just really good at removing things at the slightest hint of disinterest, as long as I haven’t already bought them). However, it is a really well-loved book for many of the people I follow! So, in my tiny bubble, it is something similar to hyped. Do I know what it’s about? No. Do I want to read it soon? Yes, because sometimes not knowing the details makes me more curious.

[It’s also longer than 500 pages, so “soon” might as well mean next year. Or maybe not, given how quickly I got through the 600 pages of The Kingdom of Copper. Not every book is a Jade War.]


Have you read any of these?

TBR & Goals · Weekly

T10T: Books I’d Love To Read This Spring

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books On My Spring 2020 TBR.

I don’t do TBRs anymore, and since I stopped doing them, I got better at understanding which kind of books I actually want to read soon. After all, of the ten books mentioned in my “books I’d love to read this fall” post, I’ve read eight (of which one was a DNF); only two are still on my TBR (Ninth House, A Kingdom for a Stage), and that’s pretty good!

I’m already going to tell you that I could rename this post “Acqua, read that sapphic SFF book you think you’ll love and stop procrastinating” and I wouldn’t be too far off.


Stormsong by C.L. Polk

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I decided to reread Witchmark in occasion of the release of the sequel. Did I pick up the sequel? Of course not. Anyway, this is the F/F continuation to one of my favorite books, one I’ve been anticipating for more than a year, so I should move already.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

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I was a little surprised to find out that the main character of this one was an orc, because we don’t see a lot of non-humans that aren’t fae lately. Which is really interesting! It’s F/F and it’s apparently also sci-fantasy/space fantasy in some way, which makes it look unlike everything I’ve ever read. The reviews have also been mostly positive, so I have high hopes and I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. I own it.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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This is the prettiest book on my shelves (the black pages are so gorgeous and this may be my favorite cover ever) and I can’t wait to get to the inside as well – I say, while carefully avoiding it as with all the books I’m sure I’ll like. It has lesbian necromancers and it’s so hyped and I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. Just… look at it.

Splintegrate by Deborah Teramis Christian

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Another book I have mentioned multiple times on this blog that I’m really anticipating and happens to be sci-fi with a lesbian main character. I have very specific criteria for which books I choose to procrastinate on apparently!

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

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This one isn’t out yet, but it comes out this spring and I hope to get to it before… next year, so it belongs on this list. It’s about queer witches, and while I’m kind of outgrowing a lot of YA fantasy, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give this at least a chance. It sounds amazing and the cover is really pretty.

Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly

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I don’t want to leave what has been one of my favorite series unfinished. The second book wasn’t as strong as the first, but I’m still really attached to the characters and I want to know where this series will bring us next. I hope I’ll finally find a sequel that doesn’t disappoint me!

A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

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Concept: reading the second book of a series before the third comes out, maybe, possibly, have I done that ever in the last year? This is the sequel to For a Muse of Fire, one of the few m/f YA fantasy novels (but with a sapphic protagonist!) I’ve liked in the last few years. It deals with colonization and how it’s like to be mentally ill when the world is going to hell, which is, I feel, very relevant.

A Phoenix Must First Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell

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One of my most anticipated (and one of the prettiest) anthologies ever, A Phoenix First Must Burn is made of sixteen SFF stories by Black authors about Black girls and non-binary teens. It came out recently and I plan to read it as soon as I finish the collection I’m currently reading.

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

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Quarantine means that, if things keep going the way they’re going now, I’m going to have all the time I need to dedicate myself to something that will no doubt be weird and somewhat overwritten in the best possible way. So I will finally have the time and energy to read a Catherynne M. Valente book!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

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It looks like I’m going to be stuck at home for a while, so I might as well try to tackle my physical TBR? This is one of the books that has been on it the longest, and it’s contemporary-set sci-fi.


Have you read any of these?

Discussion · TBR & Goals

Reading & Blogging Plans

I haven’t been doing TBRs this year, but I have plans around reading and blogging, so I thought I’d talk about them and what I’ve been reading this month (spoiler: not a lot, and in a way not as much as I’d like, though I’m trying to get over that).

After all, even in the current best case scenario, I’m going to have a lot of free time this week – I live in Northern Italy, and while I’m not in one of the outright quarantined towns, university lessons have been cancelled and we’ve been recommended to move as little as possible.


↬ I’ve been slowly trying to get into audiobooks, just as I’ve been slowly trying to learn how to cook. The two things go really well together, as it turns out.

44603899._sy475_I still struggle a lot, probably for a combination of difficulties with processing sounds (how do people listen to things on 2x speed? That sounds like a squirrel blabbing in a dead language from another galaxy) and my English just being Not That Good. I posted my review of You Must Not Miss yesterday, and in the next few days I should post the one of The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake. For now, I reach only for contemporary and contemporary fantasy, but I don’t know, maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to change that.

When I’m not “cooking” (90% of the cooking I do time-wise is peeling and cutting vegetables. It doesn’t require that much attention), I’m finding that coloring books are also a good way to keep myself occupied so that I don’t drift off.

↬ I’ve also tried out the excerpts of a few audiobooks to listen to next:

  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon: I struggled with the excerpt a little at first (I’m not used to men narrating) but I got used to it fairly quickly, so I think I’m going to make it work in some way. I think this will be one of the next books I try, and it will probably be my first non-contemporary audiobook.
  • We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia: an f/f release from last year I haven’t been able to get to yet! And the sequel is already there, so this is perfect. I really liked the narrator.
  • The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: this is an UK audiobook, which means the narrator’s accent is going to give me some trouble at first (I don’t know why American book characters seem so obsessed with British accents, they sound like they’re chewing on their words), but I tried an excerpt and it feels doable. I’m really excited for the vampire lesbians.

↬ while I said in my “what to expect from February” that hopefully I’d post a review of Machina, I ended up DNFing it

48767197._sx318_I don’t know how many of you have been following Serial Box originals – they’re collaborative serial novels (the authors involved this time were Fran Wilde, Martha Wells, Malka Older and Curtis C. Chen), and I think they’re just not for me. I had the same problems with Machina that I had with The Vela last year: it feels like the people writing it have been given an outline and are just trying to make it work, moving the characters to point A to point B while disregarding everything that would feel natural. The result feels… soulless, there’s no heart in it, and after a few chapters, the characters start feeling like puppets. Which is a shame, because I did like the premise (robot competition! going to Mars!) and the first chapters.

↬ I’ve been putting together a new Short Fiction Time post (read the last one here), in which:

  • I’ll review four short stories, two of which Nebula-nominated. Yes, Nebula awards finalists have been announced! I’m glad to see a lot of books I loved on here and I hope I’ll be able to read most of the short story/novelette categories before the winners are announced.
  • I’ll talk about what it has meant for me to read fiction from people I disagree with, what the benefits of that might be, and which kind of diverging points of view I seek out.

My goal with this series of post is to have a space to talk specifically about short fiction and associated topics, as I feel that is missing.

↬ I’m getting through rereads to get to some anticipated sequels

While sequels seem to have the habit of disappointing me as often as they can (see what happened with Girls of Storm and Shadow last year and now with The House of Sundering Flames), there are still some I really want to read. I’ve been rereading Witchmark by C.L. Polk – which, by the way, is turning out to be as good as it was the first time around –  because, after all, Stormsong is already out. I’d also love to get to The Fever King by Victoria Lee again before The Electric Heir is released, but I might not, as I’m not exactly in the right place to read about pandemics, even magical ones.

↬  In the next weeks, three books I’m anticipating that aren’t sequels are going to be out:

While this year so far I’ve been terrible at keeping up with new releases (you know how many I read? One. And it was a novella), I’m still going to talk about them, because why not. I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to read these in March, but who knows:

  • Among novellas, the only thing I’ve been marginally decent at keeping up with, I’m really looking forward to The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo. The comparisons to one of my favorite series, the Tensorate, make me really anticipate this.
  • If you’re in any way involved in adult SFF circles or circles dedicated to queer releases, I’m sure you’ll have already heard of Docile by K.M. Szpara, a story about capitalism, consent, and sexual slavery. It might be too much for me, I won’t know until I try (the comparisons with Captive Prince do not bode well, but then, I DNFed that one because I wasn’t invested enough to get through that much sexual violence, not because of the violence itself), but K.M. Szpara has been one of my favorite short fiction authors for a while. [If you want to start from his short fiction, I recommend the trans vampire novelette Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time]
  • The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett is going to be out in March as well. It’s on my TBR because it’s F/F fantasy, and while me and YA fantasy don’t get along that well anymore, I’m going to give it a chance.

↬ I’ve been getting through N.K. Jemisin’s collection How Long ‘Til Black Future Month, and it has convinced me to give another try to her novels:

As of the writing of this post, there’s only one short story left. This was overall a mixed bag for me, even more than the average collection/anthology, which reflects my experiences with Jemisin’s novels so far as well (loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, didn’t care at all for The Fifth Season). I’ll talk more in detail about which stories didn’t work for me and why in my next Short Fiction Time post.

However, two of my favorite short stories in here were The City Born Great and The Narcomancer, respectively set in the worlds of the upcoming The City We Became and her backlist Dreamblood duology. Maybe The Fifth Season really was the fluke for me, which seems partially confirmed by me not caring for Stone Hunger, the short set in that world. If I can explain what went wrong with The Fifth Season for me – that book is a lot like a rock. A solid read for sure! Also dull, a pain to bite into, and emotionally flat.

I might try The Killing Moon in the next Try A Chapter post; the short story I read really made me fall in love with that world.

↬ I’ve been putting together a list of adult contemporary fiction I want to try. Have I actually tried any of it yet? Of course not

Apart from some more ~literary~ adult stuff I want to try that I’ve already talked about, like Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, I’m also looking for contemporary adult fiction that should more or less be as easy to follow as YA contemporary is but doesn’t actually follow teens. So far, some interesting titles to me are Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (I’m not sure what the story is about exactly but it follows a Jamaican-British woman and deals with mental health issues) and In at the Deep End by Kate Davies (about an abusive lesbian relationship). I’ve also been looking for adult fiction set in countries that aren’t the US or UK, and so far If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha and The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao, respectively set in Korea and Indonesia, look interesting to me. I’m not sure when I’ll actually get to any of these but they might be featured in upcoming Try A Chapter posts.

As I’m starting to move away from YA more seriously (not completely, of course; it’s just that I’m 20 and I don’t want that to be most of what I read anymore), I also want a contemporary counterpart to the amazing adult SFF I’ve been reading lately. It might take a while for me to find my niche but I hope I love it just as much.

↬ I’ve also been looking at memoirs that could be interesting to me.

I’ve already talked multiple times about In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, which I just finished yesterday (and absolutely loved; I hope to have a review up soon). However, that’s not the only memoir I’ve been interested in: I’ve also found Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown, a YA memoir (I didn’t even know they really existed) and two graphic novels, My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Kabi Nagata and Spinning by Tillie Walden. Both are queer and have been translated in Italian, which means I have physical copies – my favorite format to read graphic novels, of course. As usual, only the graphic novel section of the Italian book industry cares about diversity. [If by chance you’re another Italian, I have some recommendations here.] Memoirs still feel kind of intimidating to me and I hope I’ll be able to get through them easily in this format.


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?

TBR & Goals

November 2019 TBR

And so we get to the second-to-last month of the year! It’s clear by now that I won’t be able to read as much as I read in the last two years, but I still hope I’ll be able to put together a long list of favorites at the end.


How did the October TBR go?

  • After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott – read★★½ (review)
  • The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht – read, ★★★½ (review)
  • The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling – early DNF, no rating (short review)
  • War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – early DNF, just not my thing
  • The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh – read★★★★½ (review)
  • Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan – DNF 75%★★ (RTC)

Not bad! I’m finding that writing smaller TBRs works a lot better for me, so I’ll continue that way. As usual, this is not all I’ve read. I could go back to writing longer TBRs, because I do read just enough books, but I also want to give myself the space to be a mood reader while still keeping up with the ARCs I have left.


ARCs

While I am requesting less, I still have a few from this summer’s request sprees, so:

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao – I haven’t read anything by this author since loving Forest of a Thousand Lanterns in 2017 and that should change. I’ve heard wonderful things about this one and the romance in it, so I’m going into it with high hopes and without knowing that much (all I know is that’s m/f Vietnamese-inspired YA fantasy).

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – I’m finally doing this. It only makes sense that I try to read a fantasy book I was anticipating since it was announced when the sequel is already out! Classic Acqua. Anyway, this should be post-apocalyptic fiction with a Navajo main character. (Yes, it’s an ARC of the UK edition. No I’m not using the UK cover because it’s ugly.)

Reverie by Ryan La Sala – I’ve heard this is weird, very queer, and has a drag queen sorceress. I’m not even sure which genre it is but I requested it and here I am, reading it. It should be out in December; I hope it’s good.


Other Priorities

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – I own a physical copy of this book and it’s beautiful, so I can’t wait to go into this tome without knowing nothing about it, as I’m told it’s a good idea to do.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I have a copy of this and it needs to happen before the end of the year. Please don’t disappoint me, weird lesbian necromancy book in space.

House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard – I finally got around to rereading The House of Binding Thorns, loved it just as much as the first time, and now I hope I won’t wait another full month before completing the series.


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?