TBR & Goals

October Try-A-Chapter TBR for the Uncanny & Scary Season!

Hi! Today’s post will be a TBR – one different from what I usually do.
It’s October, and I see October as a chance to explore genres I wouldn’t normally reach for, genres I have a complicated relationship with: horror and thrillers. I tried something of the sort last year and it didn’t pan out very well, but I think I would have been able to tell that those books weren’t actually my thing at all had I bothered to read a preview instead of jumping into them because of recommendations.

So, today, I’m combining the Try A Chapter tag with my TBR: I’ll try out most creepy and mysterious books I’ve marked as interesting on goodreads and choose what to read.


What I’m Trying

These Women by Ivy Pochoda: I first became interested in this purely because of the cover, then it stayed on my mind because it has been described as standing at the intersection between literary fiction and thriller, more a character study than something you’re supposed to “solve”, and maybe that’s more of my thing? Maybe the answer to being chronically disappointed by mystery reveals is to read books in which it’s not at all the point. Let’s try.
The preview: the first chapter is from the point of view of a sex worker, and I think she’s talking to someone in the hospital? I do like how this whole book seems to be about taking a completely different angle from most of the genre and centering the sex worker instead of making her a disposable victim (you don’t even have to have read or watched a lot of mysteries or thrillers to know that it’s a common thing because it is That Common). I think I like it, but I don’t know if it’s something I would reach for outside an “out of my comfort zone” challenge as this one. The writing is very unusual and deliberately choppy.

The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan: this is backlist and a favorite on US trans twitter, and I’m not sure I get what it is exactly, but hearing that is something both semi-autobiographical and with horror elements makes me really interested in it, given that the only other book I’ve read that walked the line between fiction and nonfiction is the masterpiece that was Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. I’m sure this will be completely different – books that can’t be pinned down in one genre tend to be! – but the point is that it sounds like it will be an Experience. Also, there’s very little I like as much as reading about haunted people. The main criticisms I saw of this one were that it’s pretentious (might be a problem depending on execution) and that it wanders a lot (I don’t think I’ll mind).
The preview: one thing I really like about this is that it doesn’t shy away from words like “crazy” and “insane”, deliberately. (If you’ve ever seen “ableist slur” discourse play out, well, you know why I’m saying this.) These are words I mostly avoid to not make others uncomfortable, but the thing is – living as the crazy one is much more than uncomfortable. Apart from that, this is thematically heavy but easily readable despite it not being in any hurry to make a point, possibly the best kind of combination. I still don’t have a clear idea of what this is going to be, but again, that is deliberate. I may never have one. It literally starts with “This is the book it is, which means it may not be the book you expect it to be.”

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power: let’s see if this is just like Wilder Girls, both in the sense that I thought it shouldn’t have been a YA book at all and in the sense that it’s not going to work for me. I hope I’m at least wrong about the second, and as I said once before, I want to see how the concept of “creepy cornfield” is executed. My opinion is that any huge monoculture is inherently creepy and so are a great number of plants if they get tall enough, but I don’t get why corn specifically is The Creepy Field in American culture.
The preview: I still don’t know about the corn, but the writing is breathtaking – even more than in Wilder Girls. The hints of “complicated mother-daughter relationship” are drawing me in already. I don’t know how credible my premise “I’m not into thrillers or horror” sounds now that I haven’t been able to exclude even one book yet, but that’s good news I guess? (Not necessarily, as many of them fail for me in the ending, but at least it won’t be like last year’s picks)

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson: this has one of the most striking covers I’ve ever set my eyes on, and it was the main reason this ended up on my TBR even though mysteries are not my genre at all. However, it’s high time I try something by this author, and the premise of this one sounds interesting – it’s about a Black girl who is accused of a murder she doesn’t remember committing, and I’ve heard its explores themes of misogynoir, abuse, and famous adult men exploiting teenage girls (don’t know the details because I want to avoid spoilers).
The preview: there are content warnings at the beginning, which is very considerate and that I really appreciate. As far as the story goes, it’s already setting up the tension effectively – only a few chapters into the flashback and I would be already worried for the main character even if I didn’t know the outcome. I think it’s going to be told mostly in flashbacks, though I’m not sure yet; I hope we gets more glimpses into the future timeline as well. The very short chapter make it feel like a tense, unputdownable read. If it weren’t for the fact that I don’t actually own this yet I’d be tempted to skim forward. The other thing that is holding me back is that this is going to be a necessarily heavy read – the kind I could only deal with on a day in which I’m not already doing badly, I think.

The Damned by Renée Ahdieh: I just want to go back to the decadent underworld of New Orleans and its secret societies in which the paranormal dwells (and marginalized people are accepted)! I’ve been seeing mostly negative reviews, but that was also true for the first book – slow-burn atmospheric paranormal isn’t for everyone nor is it trendy right now either – so I’m not that worried. Also this is one of my favorite covers to ever exist.
The preview: this is so dramatic, I love it already. I don’t know if I’ll like Bastien’s PoV as much as I liked Celine’s in the first book, but I hope so. Also Odette is there and it’s my obligation as a lesbian to read about her, if not now, at least soon. (I hope she gets a girlfriend…) My main worry at this point is that I won’t be able to remember all the names because the cast of characters only in the Court is neverending, but at least I have my e-copy of The Beautiful to search things in.

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall: a YA horror that apparently also has queer elements that was really hyped for being extremely creepy (at least by YA standards) last fall. It has to do with disappearances, a road that requires a toll, and it’s told in a mixed media format.
The preview: this isn’t bad – at all, at least from what I can tell – but it suffers here because it’s by far the book with the plainest writing on the list so far, and if there’s one thing I don’t like about writing it’s “plain”. Be weirder! I know many people’s idea of good writing is “writing that isn’t intrusive and gets the job done” but I don’t agree at all, I want to sink my teeth in it. I’m interested – the mixed media format is really intriguing – but it’s low priority.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas: since I’m a fool, I’m going to give yet another chance to something that has been marketed as Dark Academia, and not even one that is getting good reviews. (Maybe that means I’ll like it? Who knows.) However: I recently saw Kayla/booksandlala liken its weirdness to some of my favorite weird & underrated books in one of her recent videosThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls, A Room Away from the Wolves, and even A Like in the Dark. I want to know why.
The preview: …the chapters in this one are neverending. Like, the preview ends and we’re not even finished with chapter one. I still think it seems easily readable, or maybe I just think that about everything this evening. I don’t know. The writing isn’t horribly pretentious and no one is quoting Shakespeare at me, which is already a significant improvement from the last time I tried this genre. Also, the feeling of being lost is already coming through and giving me vague A Room Away from the Wolves vibes. (That book is also set in a place named “Catherine House”. How.) I don’t have a definite impression yet but I’m curious.

She’s Too Pretty To Burn by Wendy Heard: queer book twitter made so much noise when the cover of this YA thriller was released, and for good reasons! It looks so fascinating, and as it has been described as “an electric romance that sparks lethal danger”, inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray… of course I want to try it. I have an ARC and I’m going to read it for sure, all this trying a chapter is going to accomplish is deciding whether I want to read it right now.
The first chapter: so, this is compelling enough and something I would have absolutely loved at 16, which is a good sign for a YA book but not necessarily for my current enjoyment – though it’s too soon to say for sure. I will say that I really like the writing and that it’s already setting the tone very well, even though I’m not yet sold on the characters.

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour: haunting stories! I think including this one on this list is more of a stretch, as I’ve heard it’s more “introspective contemporary with magical elements” than anything remotely horror, but it has ghosts in it and I say it counts.
The preview: this is very… muted? Faded? I expected a quiet book from Nina LaCour, and this has again that feeling of isolation and loss, but in a completely different way from We Are Okay. I think it would take me more time than a brief preview to truly get into it, as it’s intentionally removed. I appreciate the already ominous tone. Maybe it’s a little more creepy than I thought? We’ll see.

Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford: this is another weird genre-defying novel that has been described as “haunted” and compared to some of my favorite contemporary fantasy books; I have no idea what it is about but given this and the cover I don’t need much more to want to try it. I feel like it’s going to be way more ~literary than I’m used to but let’s see.
The preview: this is… really interesting and weird and the writing is gorgeous. I have no idea where it’s going but that’s both a good thing and something I imagine I’ll also feel after having finished the novel if I actually end up reading it (also not necessarily a bad thing? It depends). For something that is about taking body parts out of people, it isn’t even that gory, and I’m not yet sure about whether that’s a good thing or not.


Results!

I’ve been struggling with TBRs lately, so I’m not going to define one clearly; I’m going to give myself space to choose which books I’ll read as the month goes on instead of choosing them all now, which also gives me the chance to check out some that aren’t out yet (queer thriller They Never Learn by Layne Fargo) and even some self-published stuff that looks interesting if I have time.

For now, I will say that my priorities are:

  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power, which is the one that impressed me the most with its writing – Rory Power got even better in this aspect since Wilder Girls;
  • Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas, because of the possible parallels with some of my favorite books, and because of how difficult to pin down and yet so… effective in setting the mood that beginning was;
  • The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan, because the preview was promising and I’ve seen this recommended so many times by now that I can’t just drop it without going further;
  • I also really hope I’ll be able to fit The Damned by Renée Ahdieh in there, I just want to get back in this world.

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

TBR & Goals

5 YA Books I’d Like to Reread

To exist in the online book world is to always hear about the new books coming out. Deep down, I’m also always looking for something new, because isn’t a significant part of the drive to read born from curiosity? And while I can find “something new” in backlist books if I distract myself from new release hype for a moment, finding the motivation to reread books isn’t as easy.

I find this harder to do with YA books specifically. Maybe I’m afraid that the books I liked at 16 will be ruined for me if I read them now, despite having some evidence of the contrary from the few times I actually got through with those rereads – I still like most of them, just for different reasons. Or maybe it’s that I’m constantly being inundated with news about all the latest YA books, which means I’m more likely to reach for a new one when I just don’t have the energy to deal with the level of worldbuilding and complexity I want adult SFF to have. I don’t know.

But the thing is, from past rereads I know that every reread brings with itself something new. There are YA books I consider “favorites” that I liked without understanding why, because I read them at a time I didn’t have the tools to get into the reasons under “this made me feel a lot”. There are books that changed my life, and I want to know how that change will shape the experience of reading them. There are, on the opposite side, books I read at the worst possible time, but I only realized that in hindsight and now want to give them a fairer chance.

Today, I’m going to talk about five YA books I want to reread. Maybe that will help me motivate myself… at least, I hope.


Mirage by Somaiya Daud

I should probably add a disclaimer to this blog, “don’t trust anything that was written in 2018 too much”, but that’s especially true for everything I wrote in the fall of that year. I remember that my thoughts on Mirage were “this is great and one of the most original YA books I’ve ever read setting-wise, but something is missing and I’m not sure what”; now I know what was missing, and it was not about the book (for details, look for the Empire of Sand section). Two years later, I want to give this Moroccan-inspired sci-fantasy about colonization another chance, especially given how many amazing things I’ve been hearing about its sequel Court of Lions.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

While I believe in the importance of representation of marginalized groups in fiction, I’ve never really understood why so many of the conversations around it focused on “seeing yourself”, or “being seen” by a book. Then it happened to me once, and I agree, while it’s still far from the main reason I read diverse books, it is life-changing if you’ve never experienced that before. The Dark Beneath the Ice is a horror novel that uses a haunting as a metaphor for the most painful aspects of anxiety, while featuring a textually mentally ill character – it’s not a it was ghosts all along story nor a it was mental illness all along story. The two are one and the same, and it makes so much sense. The thing about “anxiety disorders” is that their very name feels like a dismissal. “She has anxiety” feels so much like a slightly heavier version of “oh, she’s just shy“, and I hate it so much – it feels completely inappropriate for the life-ruining well of isolation it actually is to me. This book gets it; I also feel haunted sometimes. I want to know how it feels to go into it knowing what it’s trying to do from the beginning. Also, horror season is incoming!

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

I don’t know why I liked this book so much! Or, I do, superficially – the whimsically strange writing coupled with beautiful, macabre imagery means I will never forget certain scenes, and the gay subtext with the literal manifestation of Night helped, but I know that there was more to it. I know. I’ve read Never-Contented Things by the same author last year, and what was on the surface a nonsensical, at times grotesque story about escaping the faery realm was actually about cycles of abuse and recognizing actual love from codependency or neglect. I strongly suspect that Vassa in the Night also has a similar thematic core – maybe about parental neglect specifically? I’m not sure – but at 16 I… didn’t exactly miss it, I absorbed it without recognizing what it was. After all, at the time I thought that a book having some sort of message had to mean that it was preachy. I’m glad 16-year-old me didn’t actually have a platform?

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

This is a corollary to an upcoming post about my next step in the journey of “trying to figure out what I like in the mystery/thriller genre”. I read A Line in the Dark in 2017, and since then, it has been the only book in the mystery genre I’ve actually ever given five stars. I remember loving the lesbian love triangle, and I remember loving how flawed and… horny the main character Jess was allowed to be, in a way that I just couldn’t find back then. I remember the cold, lost atmosphere; the complicated feelings the Jess had in regards to gender presentation in her Chinese-American family, and how this book grappled with the racism, subtle and not, Jess gets from her crush’s white friends. I don’t remember what I liked about the mystery. I should find out!

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

Another book I read in 2018! This is also a YA fantasy inspired by Southeast Asia during French colonialism, featuring a main character with bipolar disorder who is trying to survive being mentally ill and magical when her magic is tied to necromancy. This book has a portrayal of mental illness that really spoke to me back when I was going through one of my worst moments with it, despite it not being something I actually “related” to (different illness). Also, it’s a gorgeous mixed media fantasy (how rare is that as a format?) that includes plays and sheet music. I just want to go back to it & get to the sequels.


Do you reread books often, or do you also get distracted by newer things?

TBR & Goals

Small September TBR

Since having a very small TBR back in August worked – of the six books, I only didn’t get to the novella, and that wasn’t all I read during the month – I’m going to try again.


Novels

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – I’m intimidated by this one because it’s multi-PoV fantasy that reaches 450 pages from Orbit, and I have a mostly negative track record with long fantasy books from that imprint, but I’ve heard great things. I’m not even sure what it is exactly – I heard “gay” and “bone shard magic” and requested an ARC (I know. Went on a netgalley request spree back in July.)

Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston – this is Even Longer but it’s one of my five star predictions and one I’ve heard amazing things about from people I trust on twitter. As with the one before, I’m not completely sure what it is about (I don’t like knowing too much about the premises of adult fantasy given how slowly they tend to develop…), but apparently it’s African fantasy involving a poison desert and I’m so here for it.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke – some variety in genres is a good thing, and so I’m choosing this queer witchy YA contemporary with a gorgeous cover. I’ve heard very mixed things about it, but I’m hesitantly hopeful.

Novellas

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling – another five star prediction! Also, reading some creepy stuff in September would mean I have new recommendations for that in October, if I want to write that kind of post, so now it’s the perfect time. Anyway, this is queer gothic feat. poisonous plants, and that’s perfect.

The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg – the only book I still haven’t even tried from my TBR back in July, and it’s another I’ve heard mixed things about. I’m not sure what to expect – I don’t think I’ve ever read about elderly trans characters before, so it should be interesting.

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (aka Seanan McGuire) – the novella I didn’t get to from the August TBR. This is the book-inside-the-book featured in Middlegame, which is just… so meta that I don’t know how to feel. I’m not sure it will be my thing, because the excerpts from this book were the least interesting part from Middlegame, but I’m intrigued.


I don’t think this is all I’ll read, but I like to give myself space to choose unexpected books through the month. Have you read or want to read any of these?

TBR & Goals

August TBR, Maybe

What do you do when you’re not reading? Write a list of books to read, of course.

I know this is possibly the most nonsensical time to write a TBR, but I’m trying to see this less as a chore and more like a helpful list of books I might want to prioritize without needing to open my goodreads and scroll to the intimidating full TBR list.

Also, the TBR worked for June? I ended up not reading for half the month and all of July, but when I read, I read so much. (Enough that I ended up ignoring only one book out of nine!)


Priorities

These are the two books I’m currently reading and would like to finish. The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood is a fantasy novel with somewhat sci-fi-like aspects I’m mostly enjoying (but struggling with the pacing of); I also started the audiobook of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown but I know I won’t have a lot of chances to listen to it in the current situation, so that might have to wait until the second half of August (I really like it so far, though!). We’ll see.


Physical Books

The only physical book I brought with me when I left is The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, and the tablet I read my ebooks on is kind of falling apart and definitely laggy. Yes this is an attempt at convincing myself to read it. Will I end up not reading anything at all? Stay tuned for the answer you already know! (More seriously, I am at least going to try.)


eARCs

One of the main priorities has to be When Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, which I’m reading for a blog tour I was invited in back before the book’s release date got pushed to August. This is the last blog tour I’m ever going to take part in – I may or may not write a post about that when I have more time – but while I’m not excited about the event at all, I’m still really interested in the book: I read an excerpt a while ago and I remember being really into the aesthetic, and “Phantom of the Opera retelling” sounds fun.

Another is Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. The fact that I have an eARC of it, even though it’s of a November 2019 edition, says a lot? I haven’t been great at keeping up with them, which is why I’m requesting a lot less. I started this one back in November, then went on a very unplanned hiatus during which I considered leaving blogging completely, and this book just got caught in the middle of that and I haven’t picked it up since. I need to change that.

Over the Woodward Wall by Deborah A. Baker is another I have an ARC of, and it’s tied to one of my favorite books of last year, so I definitely have the motivation to read it! Deborah A. Baker is yet another pseudonym of Seanan McGuire, and Over the Woodward Wall is the book-within-the-book that was featured inside Middlegame.


Have you read or want to read any of these?

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 Black and queer 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 · 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

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?

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?

Weekly

T10T: Books I’m Intimidated By

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 TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why.


The Priory of the Orange Tree

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  • I’ve liked only one book longer than 600 pages since 2016 – at the time, I had far more patience and time to waste, so I didn’t hate long books as much as I do now. Said long book I liked is also the last book I read, so this isn’t happening anytime soon
  • This is… longer than 800 pages. Why should I do this to myself
  • Because gays and dragons, that’s the real answer
  • And because everyone loves it

The Traitor Baru Cormorant

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  • I’m 90% sure I’m going to hate this, but in a moment of really bad decision-making, Acqua requested an ARC of the sequel last year. And they approved her. Why.
  • Why should I read a fantasy story involving homophobia and the tragedy of being gay when I could, you know, not do that
  • (because you own the book and the sequel, you disaster)
  • (why do I do these things to myself?)

Girl Made of Stars

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  • I did really like some aspects of Ashley Herring Blake’s How to Make a Wish, but unlike many of my goodreads friends, I didn’t love it
  • this should be hard-hitting contemporary about a heavy topic. In theory, that sounds great, but I… usually end up not liking this kind of book (see what happened with The Nowhere Girls and Sadie)
  • but I’m still interested in it, because queer representation and because I do think it’s going to handle this topic well.
  • also I’m shallow and I love the cover

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

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  • When I was still writing on my old Italian blog, this was on my list of “most anticipated books for 2018”
  • Two years later: still haven’t read it, because I’m bad at anthologies, the only ones I read are the ones I get as ARCs
  • There are so many authors in here I loved books from: Aliette de Bodard (one of my favorite authors), Alyssa Wong (favorite short fiction author), Sona Charaipotra, Lori M. Lee, Roshani Chokshi, Cindy Pon…
  • I always want to read it and then never actually read it because I think I’m going to love it and what if I buy it and then I don’t! This makes no sense. I know.

Red, White, and Royal Blue

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  • Romance is a very hit-or-miss genre for me
  • when it comes to popular queer books, I hate when I’m one of the few who don’t like them. It happened with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, probably the most hyped f/f book, and it was all but a good experience
  • I’m not sure real-world royalty anything is a topic that has ever interested me
  • but nearly everyone loves it and it still sounds fun?

The Kingdom of Copper

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  • I have a paperback of this one, and… there’s no way this is a book. This is a brick or a close combat weapon. Not a book.
  • I’d need to reread The City of Brass, which is also all but short
  • Will this ever happen? Who knows. Not me.
  • I want it to happen because I want to know what happens, but I’m just as bad at sequels as I am at long books, so.

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe

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  • Despite adult sci-fi technically being my favorite genre, I am really good at never reaching for it!
  • Why haven’t I read this f/f book set in space yet? Because it’s… long, I guess?
  • I have no other reason and it doesn’t make sense even to me

Range of Ghosts

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  • backlist [/ˈbæk.lɪst/]: the thing that, on this blog, never gets read
  • also the reviews are all but promising and this sounds kind of boring even to me
  • the same was also true for the author’s most recent book, Ancestral Night, which was amazing, actually
  • also the first chapter was nice and the cover is beautiful

War Girls

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  • Today in Acqua always requests the wrong ARCs: this is about climate change
  • I don’t want to read more about climate change for fun
  • the ecology course was more than enough
  • a normal person’s brain, while requesting an ARC: I liked the author’s previous book and this synopsis appeals to me at this moment, I had this on my TBR already, can’t wait to read it
  • Acqua’s thought process: cover! pretty!!
  • I’m trying my best to not be like that anymore, yes

If We Were Villains

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  • I have absolutely zero experience with this genre, so there is a good chance that I will end up hating this
  • I also don’t care about Shakespeare or any English classic, really
  • but I’m also intrigued and most of my friends love it
  • let’s see how much I regret this in the end?

Have you read any of these?