TBR & Goals

October + Spookathon TBR

As you probably already know, this is Acqua’s No Free Time Fall, which means smaller TBRs, but I’d still love to (try to?) participate in this October’s Spookathon, since I never have before (readathon announcement here on Booksandlala’s youtube channel).


How September Went

From my September TBR I had:

  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – read, ★★½ (review)
  • Steel Crow Saga by Paul KruegerDNF, no rating, (short GR review)
  • A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna – still to read
  • Escaping Exodus by Nicky Draydencurrently reading (70%) [might still finish it this evening]
  • Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist*read, ★★★★½ (RTC on this blog)
  • The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard – still to read

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to read much this month, and struggling with The Ten Thousand Doors of January for half of it certainly didn’t help. However, I still did manage to read a few books, and this isn’t everything I read this month, so everything went well.

*In my last TBR, Gideon the Ninth was in this book’s place, but I said that if I wasn’t able to get to it because of costs (as it happened), I could put another book I read in September in its place.


Spookathon TBR

This readathon has five challenges; these books should fulfill all of them. So, hopefully, I will be reading these between October 14th and October 20th.

After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott – I’ve been considering this thriller with a lesbian main character for a while now; queer adult thrillers don’t seem to be that common. It should fulfill the “read a thriller” and “read something you wouldn’t normally read” prompts, as this would be my first adult thriller.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht – the secret to actually reading things is also choosing the right books, in this case really short books. This is a gothic horror novella with a queer male main character, I think. Anyway, I’m always here for, as Tor.com said, “gratuitous corpses”. This is great for the challenges “read a book with red on the cover” and “read a book with a spooky word in the title” (monster).

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling – lesbian cave horror! It should be really messed up and extremely creepy and I hope I’ll be there for both. This definitely goes for the “read a book with a spooky setting“, I really hope it won’t disappoint in that.


ARCs

The sad reality is that yes, at least for this year I will still have ARCs to read before the end of the month. Since I’m requesting less now, I hope that won’t often be the case in the future. I love ARCs! Having only one month left to read multiple of them, that’s what I don’t love.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – this could be a struggle because futuristic climate apocalypse stories aren’t something I want to read right now and probably ever, but I will give it a chance since I got an ARC and it looks like it has potential to be something apart from “depressing”.

The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh – I haven’t read anything by this author in years and I’m really interested in seeing how her writing feels like now! And I’m also so here for diverse takes on paranormal romance tropes. Even in the case I don’t end up liking it, I really hope publishing won’t stop at this one.

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan – oh, am I bad at sequels. Anyway, this is out in early November, so I want to get to it now if possible. I loved the first book, but I know this is going to be a heavy read too and I’m not sure I will be in the right headspace? We’ll see.


Have you read or want to read any of these?

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TBR & Goals · Weekly

T10T: Books I’d Love To Read This Fall

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 Fall 2019 TBR.

I’m not writing an actual TBR I plan to follow, because I probably won’t have the time to actually do anything as ambitious as following a ten-books TBR this semester (yay university). But here are some books I might read during the next months! Let’s hope I get to them before next fall.


The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

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I know nothing about this book apart from the fact that it’s gay and that the cover looks like a really pretty kelp forest, and that’s enough for me to want to read it. I mean, technically I know that it’s an f/f Twelfth Night retelling, which would be more meaningful to me if I knew what Twelfth Night was apart from something something Shakespeare, or if I had least made the effort to look it up, but going into retellings knowing very little can be a fun experience in itself, so I don’t know if I will.


Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

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I promise that this TBR won’t all be me pointing at various books, telling you that I actually have no idea what they are, and then saying that they look cool and that’s why I’m going to read them – but I also don’t know what this one is. This time, I’ve actually heard it’s better to go into the book not knowing much, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do; it’s Seanan McGuire, creepy time of the year is approaching and from Into the Drowning Deep I know that she clearly knows how to do creepy. (If this isn’t in any way creepy, that cover is seriously bad marketing.)


The Beautiful

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I have an ARC of this YA historical fantasy involving vampires, so of course I hope to read this soon. My previous experiences with Reneé Ahdieh haven’t been the best (The Wrath and the Dawn was fine as a duology overall, but it did have its own problems, and I’ve heard mostly negative things about Flame in the Mist), but I’m here for a new, diverse YA vampire phase.


Reverie by Ryan La Sala

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I’ve been hearing such good things about this queer YA novel – of which I got an ARC, it was read now on netgalley for a day – and I’m really intrigued. It looks like it will be an unforgettable experience (I mean, evil drag queen sorceress. That has to be interesting), I hope I’m right.


Her Royal Highness

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I think that with how this semester is looking so far, I won’t have that much brain-energy to read, so I’m glad that I have some things on my TBR that look both easy to follow and still interesting to me – this is a royalty romance, which I usually wouldn’t read, but f/f, and that’s automatically more interesting to me.

I kind of have a taste for the unnecessarily convoluted and I will admit that, but this fall is not looking like the right time to read worldbuilding-heavy adult sci-fi. I love it and want to read more of it, but I wouldn’t do it justice right now, so this fall might have more contemporaries in it than usual.


The House of Sundering Flames by Aliette de Bodard

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The last book in one of my favorite series! This has been out for months and I still haven’t been able to read it, which is sad, but I really want to. It should have more Emmanuelle, which I’m always here for, and more Thuan, which is amazing.


A Kingdom for a Stage by Heidi Heilig

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Will I ever not love stories about necromancers? The more I think about it lately, the more I feel like I seriously underestimated just how much I liked necromancy-related tropes.

Another anticipated sequel! I loved For a Muse of Fire last September and I really want to know what happens next. Also, I need more mixed media fantasy right now, and just look at that cover.


Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

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Another contemporary f/f romance, this time under 200 pages! The kind of thing that will probably be easy to read and not make me feel like a complete failure while also being, hopefully, cute. I haven’t had the best luck with this author so far, but I hope this one will be different.


The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

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I’ve mostly heard mixed things about this one, but I still want to give it a chance. I think it’s an atmospheric contemporary fantasy story with a mostly bisexual cast and creepy woods, which all sounds really interesting; fall is the right time for this kind of stories, but I’m still going into it with low expectations.

If this one ends up not working for me, I hope that I will at least be able to find some other creepy contemporary-set fantasy, I always love those.


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Am I worried because I haven’t seen the best reviews lately? Yes. But I’m still so intrigued and want to know how a contemporary-set adult Leigh Bardugo novel will look.

(…It can’t be worse than her Wonder Woman novel. I hate superheroes and still thought that was ok. So.)


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these? Also, I didn’t choose all blue and black covers on purpose, but it does look pretty this way.

TBR & Goals

Small September TBR

In August, I had a lot of free time and still ended up reading less than I expected; during September, I won’t have that much (any?) free time, so I want to be kinder to myself and write a slightly shorter TBR.


How August Went

  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – read, ★★★ (review)
  • War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – still to read
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinsonstill to read
  • Jade War by Fonda Lee  read, ★★★ (review)
  • A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna – still to read
  • The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore – read, ★★★★½
  • Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’KeefeDNF, no rating
  • Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard – read, ★★★★★
  • The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard – reread, ★★★★¼ (review)

As you can see, not too bad – and as all the books on this list I read were adult fantasy/sci-fi novels, so the slower pace is also justified. Struggling so much with Jade War certainly didn’t help.


September ARCs

The true priorities of the month. I managed to get my September ARCs down to a manageable number in August, which is great, let’s keep up with this.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – this sounds like a somewhat heavy, beautifully written book, and I hope that, unlike this author’s Hugo-award-winning short story about librarians, I don’t end up hating it. (I mean, I loved another of her short stories, so I’m hopeful?)

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger – I actually have no idea what this is about, but I’ve heard so many promising things in the last few days. I also found Paul Krueger’s previous book Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge really enjoyable, so I hope this is just as fun.

A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna – I… don’t remember A Spark of White Fire that well, so I’m not as interested as I was when I first read it. It’s always like this with sequels when too much time has passed, but I hope trying to actually read the book will change my mind. It has happened before.


Other Books

Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden – I’ve had the new novel by one of my favorite authors for months and I still haven’t read it. How. This is technically out in October, so not something I feel I need to get done right now, but I want to read it soon. It has biological spaceships!

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I rarely include new releases I don’t already own in TBRs, but I really do want to get to the “lesbian necromancers in space” book when it comes out. If I’m not able to get to it in September (for example, if I order a physical copy and it doesn’t get here in time), I’m just going to replace this and won’t count it as a fail as long as I end up reading something else instead.

The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard (reread) – after my really successful reread of The House of Shattered Wings, I plan to go on and reread this one to finally get to The House of Sundering Flames. As this is one of my favorite fantasy books ever, I can’t wait.


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?

TBR & Goals

August TBR

Technically, August hasn’t begun yet and I have already read parts of several of these books, but what can you expect from a Ninefox Gambit fan but calendrical heresy?


How Did July Go?

Not that well, if I look at my TBR; pretty well, if I consider that this isn’t all I read:

  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – still to read
  • The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding read, ★★★★ (RTC on this blog tomorrow)
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas read, ★★★★ (review)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia  read, ★★★★ (review)
  • Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe – still to read
  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – read, ★★★¾ (review)
  • Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – still to read
  • The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos – still to read
  • Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear – read, ★★★★★ (RTC on this blog)

For a month during which I had exams and didn’t have a stable connection for a week – which prevented me from buying new ebooks, which is why With the Fire on High and Don’t Date Rosa Santos had to wait – this is pretty good, especially since I changed my plans halfway through for a read-a-thon. What is less good is that I’m falling behind on ARCs, and I can already tell that September will be problematic (however: I’ll try to not let that stress me, I’m not going to feel stressed because of books of all things.)


Emotionally Difficult Reads

The first third of August should be stable (no exams, no university, finally) – which is more than I can ask for the rest of the year. It’s a small window of time, so I don’t know if I will actually be able to read much, but… I waited a whole year for the perfect moment to read these emotionally difficult books, which this time are my priority instead of ARCs.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – usually, if I end up quitting a book because it feels too depressing, I don’t pick it up again. But this is the most critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy of this decade, so not even giving it another chance would just feel wrong.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – this is YA, which means it could be marginally less exhausting than the other two in this category, but I’m just going to say that if I had known that it prominently featured climate change, I wouldn’t have requested an ARC of it. The ecology course was enough for an entire year.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – I am voluntarily walking into something I know could seriously hurt me (and not in a good way), because I’m definitely not smart, and what can we do about it?


I Should Read Some Sequels…

…but I’m not sure which ones yet. I will be starting two new high fantasy series (see previous category), and if I like those first books, I give myself permission to temporarily ignore Jade War and AHoRaS and read The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky and/or The Monster Baru Cormorant instead, or any other sequel. Everything is fine, as long as these three are sequels (note for future Acqua: no, novellas don’t count).

Jade War by Fonda Lee – I’m cheating, because technically this is an overdue ARC that I’m already 40% through, but I know this is going to take me weeks (I’d love this series a lot more, if going through three chapters didn’t take me a day and if Jade War weren’t a 600-page-tome), so I need to motivate myself.

A House of Rage and Sorrow by Sangu Mandanna – this is out at the beginning of September, and I’d love to read it before release date, but I don’t know how realistic that is as an idea. I might have to skim through/reread A Spark of White Fire first, too, so we’ll see.

The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore – if everything goes according to plan, this is a buddyread with Silvia! Can’t wait to be back in Ghadid and see other gay assassins. (Yes, this is an f/f assassin book, and isn’t that the best concept?)


Other Priorities

Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe – I know. I didn’t get to this one last month because I ran out of time, but this needs to happen, it was out in June. Also, it looks great?

Of Wars, Memories, and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard – I’ve also already started this short story collection, and I will be slowly reading it over the course of the month. I hate reading collections all together, but a little every day? I loved doing that with Conservation of Shadows and The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales, I hope it works for this one too. (I’ve already read two stories and they were amazing.)

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard (reread) – I will be rereading this one to eventually get to The House of Sundering Flames, which came out a few days ago. I can’t wait to get back into this world, and it would mean a lot to me if some of you tried it as well? I get that the first book isn’t the best thing ever, but I really do think this series is underrated.


TBR Add Ban

Right now, my TBR is at 159 books. It might not look like a lot – I know that many people have goodreads TBRs of more than 500 books, and my “owned” (ebooks/eARCs + a few finished physical copies) TBR is actually around 30 – but I really don’t want it to reach 200 again. So I’m giving myself a rule: I can only add a book for every book I remove. Let’s see if it works?


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?

 

TBR & Goals

The Reading Rush TBR

Here I am, writing another TBR when I still haven’t read half of the books in my last one.

Anyway: The Reading Rush, previously known as BooktubeAThon, is a read-a-thon taking place from July 22nd to July 28th. This is my first year participating (or, at least, making an attempt to participate), because it’s the first year I’ve actually had time during this specific part of Summer.

If you want more details on The Reading Rush, it has a site.


The Challenges

There are seven of them, and I don’t care too much about completing all of them, but I think trying could be fun.

1. Read a book with purple on the cover:

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There are many books I could choose for this, but I think I’ll go with Pet by Akwaeke Emezi: I recently got an ARC and it’s barely longer than 200 pages, which makes it perfect for a read-a-thon. (By the way: I love this cover? It’s so unusual. Also, I think that as the – probably – first ownvoices black trans YA novel, this book should get more hype.)

2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time:

Seeing how short it is, Pet would be perfect for this.

3. Read a book you meant to read last year:

I’m still not sure about this one, it depends on what I will be in the mood for, but The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding is an obvious one, since it’s the f/f book that has been on my TBR the longest. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar would also fit.

4. Read an author’s first book:

I could either try to do the right thing and follow my TBR by reading Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno, or I could ignore my TBR, and choose either After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott (this could be the start of another Out of My Comfort Zone post!) or House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, the only debut ARC I still have to read.

5. Read a book with a non-human main character:

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Finally one I’m sure about! I’m going to start – though not necessarily finish, as this is the kind of thing that needs to be savored – The Fox’s Tower and Other Tales, a flash fiction collection by my favorite author. Several stories in here should have non-human characters, and as one can imagine, some of them are foxes. This book also could count for the “book you meant to read last year” challenge.

As I’m seeing a few people struggle with this prompt, some short books featuring non-human main characters I recommend are All Systems Red by Martha Wells (AI mc, less than 150 pages), This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (post-human mcs, f/f, 208 pages), Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (gumiho mc, 312 pages), The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (graphic novel under 100 pages, non-human mcs), If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho (novelette, imugi mc, f/f, 30 pages) and The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander (novelette, elephant PoV, 98 pages).

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title: 

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There are many on my TBR, like the aforementioned House of Salt and Sorrow, but right now my priority is Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. For an adult fantasy novel, it’s pretty short, and I want to read it before the end of the month.

7: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation:

I am not going to reread it (I remember it vividly and I also recently read On the Come Up, so I don’t feel the need to go back to it right now), but I am maybe going to watch The Hate U Give! Which is more than I’d usually do, as I don’t like watching movies at all, so I don’t care that it’s technically cheating.


Are you participating in The Reading Rush? Have you read any of these?

TBR & Goals

5 Star Predictions #3

Last September, I wrote a post about the books on my TBR most likely to be 5 stars. While my first attempt at 5 star predictions was pretty successful (four out of five ended up being 5 stars), this one… was not.

Today, I’m going to try again. Let’s see how it goes?


Wrap-Up

In the order of the least to most likely (but all likely, or… so I thought) to be a five stars, in my September post I talked about these books:

Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko: this was, without a doubt, an experience, and while I’m still glad I read it, it’s not one I enjoyed in any way. I rated it 3 stars for the sheer weirdness of it all, but I didn’t get much out of it (maybe if I reread it in a few years I will? I don’t know). Someone else could, however.

Final Draft by Riley Redgate: this one did end up being 5 stars! A beautiful novel about anxiety and art, with one of my favorite romances (and it’s f/f! with a pansexual Ecuadorian main character.)

Borderline by Mishell Baker: this was really good! I especially loved the main character and the diversity, but it still wasn’t 5 star territory for me – it was a solid urban fantasy novel, but I wasn’t that invested in the plot or in any character but Millie. I gave this one 4 stars.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: this was… a beautifully written, truly original Moroccan-inspired space fantasy, but a combination of me reading it in a difficult moment and this book employing some tropes I struggle with (main character is isolated and then forced to do things they find painful and/or humiliating) made me not enjoy it that much. I see it as a weak 4 stars.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley: I was told this book was slow. I thought a premise like this one couldn’t go wrong, but it didn’t go right either, and I thought I was prepared for the pacing, but I wasn’t. This book is one of the worst-paced things I read in the last few years. I thought several aspects of this were fascinating, but… a lot of things weren’t. 3 stars. [I still want to try The Bedlam Stacks, though]


New Predictions!

As you can see, last round didn’t go terribly (I still liked all the books at least a little), but I can do better. I hope. As usual, sequels don’t count!

5. Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden

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I haven’t heard anyone talk about this yet, so it’s the one I’m most hesitant about, but it’s also true that Drayden’s books don’t get even half the hype they deserve, and… if you like weird novels that blend sci-fi and fantasy in ways you’ve never seen before and that don’t take themselves too seriously without being comedy, try them?

I’m in love with this cover, and I don’t need to know more than “this is Drayden’s take on biological spaceships” to put it on this list, after how much I loved Temper last summer.

4. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

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All the negative things I’ve heard about this book are actually things I love – so the main characters are unlikable and overdramatic? I love that, especially if they’re teens! Even more if they’re teen girls, let teen girls be messy! – and I’m seeing a few more positive reviews lately, so I hope I like this? I’ve never read anything by this author before. (Also: gay!)

3. The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

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I’ve heard very little about this but all I’ve heard has been amazing and it sounds like a very fascinating, very unique, and very gay novel. Apparently it’s non-linear and specifically plays with that format to put together a very unreliable narration? As I said with Vita Nostra last time, this could either go perfectly or really wrong.

2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

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Not all of Seanan McGuire’s books end up resonating with me, but when they do… well, she did write three of my favorite books. And when they don’t, they’re still solid stories, and by now I know what to expect from her writing (I don’t always love her tendency to rely on telling rather than showing more than the average author, but by now I know she does). I realize I haven’t said anything about Middlegame specifically yet, but it’s fine. I don’t know what this is about, and I want to go into it that way.

1. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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I guess we’re going to know the answer to this one very soon? Anyway: Elizabeth Acevedo wrote The Poet X. I would be surprised if I don’t end up at least really liking this one. Also, it involves food!


Have you read any of these?

 

Tag · TBR & Goals

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

According to my half-a-minute internet search, on July 1st we’re halfway through the year, so what better moment to do this Classic™ tag.


1: Best book you’ve read so far this year.

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It kinds of saddens me that I don’t even have to struggle with choosing, but my favorite book so far this year is A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. How often do you read political intrigue that actually surprises you, or worldbuilding that actually feels unique, and how many of these books have a slow-burn f/f romance and also powerful, smart female characters other than the main character or her love interest? I was going to love this book no matter what, with this premise, but the way this book was… relevant to my situation as an Italian person who is constantly in contact with American culture made everything even more personal.

2: Best sequel you’ve read so far this year:

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I’ve read only four sequels so far this year, Ruse, In an Absent Dream, Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven and Leah on the Offbeat.

Of these, the best one for me has been without a doubt In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire – not only it’s a great novella on its own, with an amazing audiobook, and made me think about so many things, it’s also great as a sequel because it made me want to continue the series: after not liking Down Among the Sticks and Bones and not caring that much about Beneath the Sugar Sky, I was on the verge of quitting, but I won’t. I actually want to reread the previous novellas to see if my opinion about some things has changed.

3: A new release you haven’t read yet but really want to

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – one of the few hyped YA fantasy books that came out this year I’m actually interested in, and I haven’t even tried it? It’s not like I have to wait for a sequel to read it, as we don’t even know if there will be one.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – another of those few! I keep seeing mixed reviews and it seems to be so polarizing that I’m not even sure what I’m getting into. However, I loved Chokshi’s previous YA fantasy duology so much, I hope I won’t feel so differently about this one.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – I have no idea what this is about and I’d like to keep it that way until I actually read the book, but despite my constant avoidance of the synopsis and of every single review of this, I’m really interested in it and hope to get to it before the end of the year.

4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I just posted a list of them! Of all of them, my most anticipated is probably Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, because it’s known that queer space fantasy is my favorite genre (let’s be honest for a moment: Ninefox Gambit is space fantasy).

However, to not be repetitive, I’m going to talk about two books I’m really looking forward to that didn’t make it to the list, one because there was another book by that author already – the anthology Of Wars, Memories and Starlight by Aliette de Bodard, which apparently will have a new f/f novella in it! – another because I forgot to add it to my TBR when I heard about it and so forgot it when I wrote the post – Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, which is a YA book about a trans black girl from a trans black author that is in some way about monsters and denial, and isn’t that A Premise

5: Biggest disappointment

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With my DNF-what-doesn’t-work reading policy, I’m reading less and less books I dislike, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t find any disappointing ones. Honestly, the sequel novella Glass Cannon by Yoon Ha Lee was in itself kind of a disappointment (it was at odds with the tone of the rest with the series and just felt weird overall, even without the exposition problem), but as the short story collection Hexarchate Stories as a whole was not, it didn’t register that much.

The disappointment I felt more strongly this year was Wilder Girls by Rory Power. It did many things right, but I can’t ignore a) how simplistic and underdeveloped the attempt at metaphorical cli-fi horror was and b) how underdeveloped and emotionally flat the characters were (as Hermione would say, they had “the emotional range of a teaspoon”). They really did feel like words on a page.

6: Biggest Surprise

I have two of them! My favorite kind of surprise is requesting an ARC of a book I’m interested in but that I don’t think I’m going to love, and then the book proves me wrong! Sometimes I love being wrong.

  • Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali is one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read and the demonstration that one can write about marginalized young people and what they face without making everything a tragic story. This is such a happy book about Muslim teenagers in love – an adorable happy story, just with a background that isn’t always as happy (it tackles Islamophobia and also follows a character who was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis).
  • I almost thought that I wasn’t going to read anything by Amy Rose Capetta ever again, after being disappointed by Echo After Echo and being annoyed at the existence itself of The Brilliant Death. But The Lost Coast was amazing, and so queer, and such a welcoming story about the importance of community and acknowledging your own power.
7: Favorite New Author (Debut or New To You)

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I thought I was going to have to repeat myself and say Arkady Martine, but technically I read two of her short stories last year, so she isn’t exactly new to me! My answer for this one is Victoria Lee, author of The Fever King, possibly the best dystopian book I’ve ever read.

There are those books you like, there are those books you love but in a… distant way? You think about them, but they don’t follow you. Then there are those that take root in your brain. I thought about The Fever King every day for at least a month and a half, which… usually doesn’t happen. I can only count two other books (or, should I say, two series) that did the same to me for longer. If you’ve been here a while, you probably already know which ones I’m talking about.

8: Newest Fictional Crush

I always feel weird about this question, as I don’t even get crushes on real people, so I’m going to see it as “character I’m very into, even though they’re kind of evil”, because that’s the closest I ever get to something like that.

And the answer this year is Nineteen Adze, “whose gracious presence illuminates the room like the edgeshine of a knife”, from A Memory Called Empire, because what can you expect from me when it comes to very morally ambiguous and just as competent female characters (I’m in love.)

9: Newest Favorite Character

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Millicent “Millie” Roper from Borderline by Mishell Baker. She’s such a well-written, complex, and sometimes horrible character. I loved her and her voice so much, and I will always like reading about a main character who is impulsive and really good at lying (it makes for interesting plot developments). Also, she’s an amputee who lost her legs in a suicide attempt and has borderline personality disorder, and I had never read about a character who was either before.

10: A book that made you cry

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None, but the one that got closer was The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum. And… probably for the wrong reasons? I loved this book, but I found the idea of some things the characters wanted from their future so upsetting that I was in a really weird place emotionally for a few hours.

11: A book that made you happy

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Second place for the “which book made you cry” question is Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee, because I did seriously almost cry of happiness after I finished this. This story gave me so much joy, I had almost forgotten books could do that. And Nim!! Such a shapeshifting disaster of a 13-year-old, she was one of my favorite protagonists this year.

12: Favorite adaptation

This time I can answer, because I’ve seen two! To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Love, Simon. Honestly, as adaptations, they were both really good? As story, I enjoyed Love, Simon more, but that’s more because romance-focused stories on a screen are never that much my thing. As aesthetic/setting, however, TAtBILB was more interesting, and maybe I like Lara Jean as a character a bit more than Simon (don’t really care for her love interests, though).

13: Favorite post you’ve written

On Ratings and Being Critical. I probably should have made the message about “appreciating books more the more you read instead of the expected contrary” clearer, but I still really like it.

14: Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year

If we’re talking about physical copies, then definitely Monstress Vol. 3 by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda. The art in this series is one of the best things I’ve ever seen, and there’s one specific panel (at the beginning of Issue/Chapter 14) in which there’s a villainess sitting on a throne (I!!!!) and wow that was attacking me personally

If ebooks count, then it’s Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. The art in this one… so soft. Those panels. So much emotion. I almost want a physical copy just for that, I hope they translate it.

15. A book you want to read before the end of the year:

AHAHAHA all of them

But it would be nice if I managed to read King of Scars before the year ends! I won’t count on it because I still have to reread Ruin and Rising, which I have no intention of doing anytime soon (…it’s so not a summer book)

Also: I’m going to make at least another attempt at reading The Fifth Season or The Traitor Baru Cormorant (two books I know will be difficult to read for me emotionally) before the year ends.


How is 2019 going for you? Have you read any of these?