Weekly

T10T: Changes In My Reading Life

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 Changes In My Reading Life.

Maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now.

This is a topic I’ve talked about a little in various posts, which I’ll be linking where relevant.


I’m Reading Less Fantasy

29774026This is probably the main one. I’ve talked more in-depth about it in my post “Am I Falling Out of Love With Fantasy?“, but the TL;DR is that I’ve probably read too much of it, especially in the YA section, and that it’s really hard to surprise me at the moment. However, I’m still really liking contemporary fantasy, weird speculative fiction with fantasy elements, and urban fantasy a lot. It’s just high/second-world fantasy I’m struggling with, as I went from reading almost only that (in 2016) to reading not a lot of it this year and not loving most of what I read.

I’m of course all for recommendations if you think there’s something really unique out there that I’m ignoring – like I’m ignoring The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon when I probably really shouldn’t, it sounds exactly like the kind of book I’d love, length aside. (Please don’t recommend me Brandon Sanderson.) I want to go back to loving this genre.

My favorite fantasy books are basically everything in the Grishaverse (except King of Scars because I haven’t read it yet), Uprooted, Strange the Dreamer, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Red Sister (only the first book).


Adult Sci-fi Might Be My Favorite Genre

2016 me would think this was a joke. I thought I hated sci-fi, and the only book I liked in that genre was Illuminae, because of the format and not because of the actual story, which if told like a normal novel would have been just ok. Then I tried adult sci-fi, and  discovered that everything I thought about sci-fi as a whole was wrong. It has so much potential and it’s often as weird and unnecessarily complicated as I like it.

Is it weird to have a favorite genre you almost never reach for? Because most of the time, I don’t have the energy to keep up with this kind of books – but when I do, I love them so much that since 2017, they always end up taking up the first spots in my lists of favorite books of the year, without exceptions.

My favorite adult sci-fi books are Ninefox Gambit (my favorite book), A Memory Called Empire, Ancestral Night, The Stars Are Legion and Ancillary Justice.


I’m Less and More Picky at the Same Time

As my reading taste evolve, so does the way I review; I once might have minded not having a well-defined magic system, but as of now, if a fantasy story (especially a contemporary fantasy story) doesn’t need one, I probably won’t care. For example, the worldbuilding and magic system in The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh was messy and not well-explained, but the story mattered to me for completely other reasons, so I gave it five stars anyway. I’m also less annoyed by predictable stories if I liked the direction they went in, didn’t completely rely on the twist, and if everything in the story was interesting anyway.

At the same time, I’m far more likely to find a story completely uninteresting because I’ve seen it all already and it was better before, and I’m far more likely to notice if a book doesn’t seem to know where it’s going; I have higher standards for the writing as well. I also have a lot less patience for badly written straight romances and I DNF easily.

I’ve talked a little more about how the way I see and review books has changed during the years in my post On Ratings and Being Critical.


I Don’t Mind Popularly Hated Tropes

26837046When I started reviewing, in 2015, love triangles were everywhere in YA, and pretty much everyone hated them and also acted like that somehow was an unpopular opinion. I hated them too; I thought that love triangles and the “instalove trope” and the chosen one had to be a sign of bad writing if everyone hated them… right?

I understood nothing, but I was also 15.

I’ve since discovered that just because YA overused the “straight white girl falls in love with two boys who hate each other” version of the love triangle, it doesn’t mean that this trope is dead; it has so much potential, and I love when I find same-gender love triangles (The Stars Are Legion, A Line in the Dark), all-PoC love triangles (The Beautiful), love triangles that end in polyamory (Strange Grace) and all kind of unusual configurations (Three Sides of a Heart); and they’re usually there for a reason that isn’t “it’s popular in YA right now”.

About the chosen one trope, I don’t mind it, especially diverse takes on it, and about instalove, I don’t think it’s a trope at all; it’s not a trope if people can’t even agree if it’s actually there. Most of the time, the reviewer just didn’t connect with the romance. I talk more about it in “What I Think of Instalove as a Trope“.


I’m a Slower Reader Than Before

I’m not in high school anymore and it shows.

This kind of makes me sad, because I feel like I’m missing out sometimes, but at the same time, it is what it is and I can’t do much to change it. More than anything, I should get better at prioritizing which kinds of books I actually want to read, and I’m not quite there yet.


I Prefer Standalones

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I mostly don’t have the patience for series, and I often don’t feel like books that are series needed to be series at all; most series I’ve liked in the last two years have been companion series. I just… there are very few books for which I care enough to read the sequel, and the sequels of those books often disappoint me (as Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan did, very recently), so what’s the point?

Some sequels on my TBR I’m hesitantly hopeful about are The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee, Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova (companion series are the best), The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore (companions for the win), Stormsong by C.L. Polk (guess what this one is? Yes again) and The Damned by Renée Ahdieh.


I Avoid Anthologies

The more time goes on, the less I’m interested in them. Not because I don’t like them – some anthologies are really important to me and some changed my life – but because I can’t justify buying them to myself when there is so much great free short fiction online already. Then I don’t read that short fiction either because I barely have time to read anymore and I want to spend that time reading books.

I know, it doesn’t really make sense, and this is actually something I’d love to change. I’ll keep being picky about anthologies but I do want to read them.


I Try to Branch Out More

I even have a series of post dedicated to this, “Out of My Comfort Zone“, to make myself read genres (or formats) I wouldn’t otherwise read. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s great.

This way, I discovered that I do like graphic novels (and I reach for them a little more), that I probably don’t care that much for adult contemporary thrillers, and that I can love historical romance if it’s gay.

Some genres I want to try next are memoirs, adult contemporary fiction, and contemporary middle grade, all of which will probably happen next year.


I’m Trying to Read Less ARCs

32970644I don’t know when I will put this one into motion, as I still have overdue ARCs and ARCs coming out in the next few months from before I decided I didn’t want to read so many of them.

It’s just that reading with a deadline can be really unenjoyable, and I don’t want that for me, as I read to have fun, and a lot of books I request as ARCs are books I’m curious about that aren’t actually priorities for me and I don’t even want to prioritize them. (No wonder I end up DNFing so many of them.)

Some ARCs I’m going to read before next year (if everything goes according to plan) are Loveboat, Taipei and Lady Hostpur; I’m really excited about both, even though the second one is really intimidating. Pulp by Robin Talley is one of my overdue ARCs, and I kind of lost interest in this one.


I’m Not Sure What’s To Come

I once thought there was no way my favorite genre could change. Now I know that wasn’t true, and I don’t know how my reading habits will look like in a few years (will I still be reviewing then?)

I’m not sure if I will still be reading YA; that’s probably going to be less and less common as the years go on, but I might be wrong. I’m not sure if I will be still reading primarily SFF; maybe I’ll prefer contemporary fiction, or even nonfiction, which looks absurd to me now, but so was sci-fi a few years ago.

Anyway, I hope I’m able to keep finding many books I love.


Have you had similar experiences?

 

Weekly

T10T: Fall Vibes

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 That Give Off Autumn Vibes.


Fall Covers

These are the books I’ve read that remind me the most of fall because of the cover (and sometimes, also because of the content).

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson: let’s start with what’s probably the most obvious one and kind of the quintessential fall YA fantasy. This is a fae romance between a human and a fae from the autumn court named Rook, so the fall tones of the cover (and the crows) make sense. And it’s just… so nice to look at.

Far From the Tree by Robyn Benway: I remember this one being a beautiful, quiet-but-emotional contemporary novel, which I do like to read during these months, but I don’t remember if the novel actually had anything to do with fall. Anyway, falling leaves! It hardly gets more of an autumn cover than that.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum: the muted, gray tones, the odd, vaguely ominous yellow drawings, the way everything looks old and faded… yes, this reminds me of fall. It has a nostalgic feel to it and so does this season. (I don’t remember the book having anything to do with fall, though.)

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton: falling leaves (petals?), red like blood; a naked tree. Everything in this book, even its content, reminded me of fall, as fantasy stories that stand on the line between dark fantasy and horror often do.

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig: I love the bright red of this one – this was kind of a cover buy to begin with – and the red/orange/yellow tones here are really autumnal. The book itself doesn’t have anything to do with the season as far as I remember (but you should read it anyway, really).


Fall Content

Books that remind me of fall because of the inside, not their covers.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: all of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books remind me of fall, but this more than the others, because one of the plotlines (as far as you can call anything in a magical realism book a plotline) involves pumpkins and pumpkin carving and pumpkin patches. It’s magical and one of the most beautiful, autumnal things I’ve ever read.

Missing, Presumed Dead by Emma Berquist: this is the season for ghost stories and thrillers! This story is both, and it’s also gay, so it’s perfect.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle: an atmospheric, quiet and cozy magical story with a mystery aspect. All of this screams autumn to me, even though I’m not sure the book actually takes place in that season. It’s set in an Irish small town and has an almost timeless, nostalgic quality to it too.

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh: thinking about historical fiction featuring dangerous paranormal societies makes me think of fall more than any other season, even though this story is technically set in winter. It’s the decadence! Very autumnal if you ask me. It does help that I read it (and loved it) just a few weeks ago.

Witchmark by C.L. Polk: a steampunk-like magical story about witches with a cozy , rainy atmosphere. How could that not be a fall read? It’s also very gay and I can’t wait for its f/f sequel, Stormsong.


Which books/covers remind you of fall?

Weekly

T10T: Last Ten Horror Books I Read

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 Halloween Freebie.

I decided to talk about the ten most recent horror books I’ve read – and what I thought of them, as horror is a very hit-or-miss genre for me. I will include my rating of the book and also a rating of how creepy/spooky/scary/unsettling the book is, with a little specifics about what makes it so. Said rating will vary from 💀 for “mildly spooky” to 💀💀💀 for “scary, really affected me for a while, glad I read it during the day”. (Consider, though, that I don’t read a lot of horror, so what’s really creepy to me might not phase habitual horror readers!)


Other Small Disclaimer:

Yes this went up at 4 AM in my time zone when it was still unfinished, so you might have seen the draft this morning (sorry! I’ve been sick all weekend+monday and forgot that I had a post scheduled.)


The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

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Genre: it stands on the line between dark fantasy and horror.
My rating: ★★★½ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀, it seriously gets dark – it might be that I’m strongly affected by everything involving plagues – but it’s also really short.

This is a novella about horrible immortal men and their even more horrible relationship and goals; villainous gay content is the best content. Also: Monsters! Sorcerers! Plague! The writing is gorgeous and evocative, the atmosphere is thick and everything feels overwhelmingly bleak. After a first half that made me think this one would be a favorite, the second part of the book really disappointed me – it didn’t go far enough and didn’t leave any impact whatsoever if not for how anticlimatic it felt.


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

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Genre: YA Gothic horror
My rating: ★★¾ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀 – mild, with the exception of one very upsetting scene involving a dead animal and worms.

A horror retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses set on a island seemed like a really interesting premise! And I have to say, the island descriptions and atmosphere were definitely the best part. Everything else… not so much. I don’t love books that backtrack too many times on what’s real and what’s not when it comes to creepy scenes, and I thought the worldbuilding needed to be a lot stronger than it was for the book to actually pull off what it was trying to do. But my main problem was with the characters, as they flat out didn’t have a personality, and the romance/vague love triangle me feel as if I had picked up something published in 2012. While this was a quick read, it didn’t feel worth it overall.


Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

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Genre: YA contemporary-set horror
My rating: ★★½ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀 – more uncomfortably sad than creepy; also involves dead animals.

I just didn’t get what this one was trying to do, which was overall a more unsettling experience than reading the book itself, as it didn’t have that much going for it apart from some very stereotyped horror devices like the creepy little girl who is creepy for literally no reason. The more I think about it, the more I also realize that I also disagree with what this book seemed to be saying in the end (did it mean to? That I can’t say), but I won’t go into it because spoilers. The only thing I actually liked about this one was the creepy wood atmosphere, that was written really well.


Wilder Girls by Rory Power

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Genre: YA horror with a (failed, imo) sci-fi twist
My rating: ★★★½ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀 – excellent body horror.

A gorgeously-written and atmospheric horror novel following three girls trapped on an island where a mysterious illness is changing everything. It’s a story that shows a deep anxiety towards change and the lack of agency that can come with it; I liked the subtle point it made about how being a girl can be a horror in itself because of the expectations inherently placed on your body, and how that relates to the body horror in here. Unfortunately, the characters were barely sketched and the story ended up trying to talk about another topic it wasn’t able to tackle properly, and that really isn’t the kind of thing you should shove in your story as a plot twist.


Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter

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Genre: YA contemporary with horror aspects
My rating: ★★★★ (full review with TWs at the end)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀 – not so much scary as deeply twisted and dealing with difficult themes. I strongly recommend looking up the trigger warnings.

This book is pretty much as weird and dark as current YA can possibly get, and if one isn’t prepared, it’s an ugly surprise. I wasn’t, not fully – I was familiar with the author, but not with what this story is about, and I wouldn’t wish that on others (despite the fact that I did really like this in the end). This is about an abuse survivor dealing with complex trauma while trying to get out of a codependent incestuous relationship and the evil faerie realm. Yes, it’s a lot, and the horror is deeply tied with the main character’s life circumstances. It’s the best that YA psychological horror has to offer, it’s beautifully (if very unusually) written, and has one of my favorite character arcs. Stories about marginalized people (the main character is queer) who are survivors and are allowed to not be the figure of the perfect victim while being allowed by the story to still find healing will always be important to me.


Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

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Genre: Sci-fi horror
My rating: ★★★★¾ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀💀 – ominous and suspenseful; slowly rising tension to a conclusion involving a lot of gore. It has the creepiest scene I’ve ever read in it.

This sits perfectly at the intersection of two of my favorite horror subgenres: sci-fi horror and ocean-based horror. It’s about man-eating mermaids, and it gets just how creepy the ocean can be. Another thing it gets? Marine biologists and natural scientists*. There’s a mermaid necropsy scene! (This is particularly relevant to me because shark necropsy might be one of the things we’ll have to do this year as students, and the characters’ reactions to the idea in that scene are pretty much ours, too. The realism!) As someone who might maybe end up being a queer woman in this branch of science, it was also really nice to see that one of the many PoV characters, arguably the main one, is a queer woman in science – a bisexual marine biologist who ends up in an f/f relationship during the course of the novel. This book gets a lot of things right, and there are few things as relevant as environmental horror questioning our ideas about human relationships with the environment.

*not always; there’s this flavor of “internet environmental activist who doesn’t know what they’re talking about” to some of the ecology aspects of it, but it could have been so much worse


The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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Genre: YA paranormal horror
My rating: ★★★★★ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀 – amazing, well-thought-out psychological horror

I have talked before about how stories about haunted people are stories about isolation, and I’ve also talked about how a rarely portrayed aspect of being mentally ill is how isolating it is. And this is a book about the consequences of avoidance and isolation due to mental illness told through a paranormal metaphor (a haunting). Since I’ve been in this kind of situation, it was an oddly comforting story, not scary at all; by others (seeing from reviews) it has been described both as “addictive and terrifying” (from a less personal PoV: it is scary) and “boring” (don’t look for fast-paced horror here).

So, this is my favorite horror book, it has an f/f relationship I love, the main character even ends up on antipsychotics and experiences side effects (why do most YA books either act as if medication will destroy your life or medication is a gift with no drawbacks?). If the next book I’m going to talk about is Annihilation, the one turned into a movie, this one could easily be renamed Self-Annihilation: An Attempt with Consequences, and if that sounds interesting to you, you really should try it.


Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

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Genre: New weird
My rating: ★★★★ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀💀 – on the deeply terrifying idea of the unknown. Really upsetting and bitter.

Its length is between a novel’s and a novella’s, which makes the distant narration work really well. Definitely don’t get into this if you’re the person who liked to get explanations or answers, but otherwise, this is a really good book about ecological horror (I don’t know the author’s thought process but I would be surprised if this wasn’t deeply influenced by climate anxiety). Like Wilder Girls, about the inherent horror of unwanted change, but it takes a completely different angle.


The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

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Genre: YA paranormal horror
My rating: ★★★¼ (full review)
Creepiness rating: 💀💀½ – pretty much as dark as YA horror goes

A horror book told in the point of view of a vengeful Japanese ghost girl! The first half is set in America and kind of boring/not that creepy, the second half is set in Japan and (by YA standards at least) seriously terrifying. The main character was probably my favorite aspect of this book, and if you want to read about creepy dolls, this is also definitely the book for you.


Persons Non Grata series by Cassandra Khaw

Genre: cosmic horror mashups; the first book is described as “Lovecraftian Noir”, the second as “Lovecraftian Southern Gothic”
My rating: ★★★★½ (first review; second review)
Creepiness rating: 💀 – mostly mild, but watch out for the eye horror and unsettling atmosphere.

These are short novellas playing with a genre I have very little experience with; it probably will carry even more meaning for those who are familiar with Lovecraft’s fiction (and want something that isn’t a racist mess) but I really liked it even with my very limited knowledge. The writing is gorgeous and makes them feel almost like poetry. From monsters hiding inside abusers to eldritch music taking over people, there’s a lot of horrible supernatural in here, and I loved what the stories did with it, especially the way A Song for Quiet ended up being a story about how much a monster grief itself can be, among all the literal monsters.


What are your favorite horror books? Have you read any of these?

Weekly

T10T: Favorite Book Titles

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 Extraordinary Book Titles.

Before getting to the list: The Drowning Summer by Christine Lynn Herman gets a honorable mention because of how ominous it is. I have no idea whether it represents the book well, but I love it.


Muse of Nightmares

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I love this one on so many levels. I have a thing for vaguely ominous titles, but also: the juxtaposition of the figure of the muse (who inspires, classically positive) with nightmares, the idea of the nightmare-bringing magical figure (so many “evil spirits” and similar things in various mythologies were said to bring nightmares, mainly), the idea of that nightmare-bringing figure being… well, if you’ve read the first book, you know who I’m talking about, what kind of person she is. The whole idea is dissonant in all the right ways.


Ancestral Night

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Mysterious and elegant, as something ancient rising from the dark; it feels vast like everything in this book does, in a way things in other books set in space never do. After all, this is about space archaeology (with pirates and ancient alien civilizations), and I think this title is perfect.


This Is How You Lose the Time War

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Is it, though. 😀

I mean, short fiction (novellas and shorter) gets all the best titles, but this is so… intriguing. And odd, honestly. Also, if you’re not a person who gets tired of lyrical writing and if you think my opinion is worth listening to, you should really really read this book. Find out how to lose a time war with us!


Conservation of Shadows

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Oh I love this one so much. There’s no such thing as a conservation of shadows, the back cover tells you straight away, and I wanted to know what that meant the moment I saw it. I thought of beautiful destruction and a rising star as much as I thought of the law of conservation of energy, and since “science words, but make it poetry” seems to be my favorite kind of writing, of course I love this.


The Haunting of Tram Car 015

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This is the best kind of weirdly specific and I love everything about it. Haunted houses? Boring. Haunted castles? Also boring. Cabins? Shacks? Manors? Mansions? Boring. Tram cars? I’m so here for it. What is that even supposed to be like.

And you know what makes it even better? It’s a haunted steampunk aerial tram car. Yes, it was just as amazing as it sounds.


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

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This sounds like the beginning of a gruesome murder mystery, but no, it’s a coming-of-age story about art and being a teenage girl and how perfection is unattainable in reality, even more so when you’re unfinished as a person because you’re 17 and there’s no way you know what to do with your life or your art right now, and there’s so much confusion on this cover as well. I love this book, I love its title, I wish more people read it.


Master of the House of Darts

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This is the only book on this list I haven’t read (yet? I’m as terrible as backlist as I am at series and this is the final book of a series I haven’t even started that came out in 2016) but I love this title so much. It’s ominous and it has something about the way it sounds that makes me want to know what exactly is this House of Darts immediately.


Dusk or Dawn or Dark or Day

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Again, short fiction gets the best titles. This might be the only book I’ve ever read just because of a title? I kept repeating it. Duskordawnordarkorday. After reading it, the title still is the most memorable thing about the novella, which was disappointing, but the way this sounds is everything. The whole dark-light-dark-light thing going on is also a nice touch. The title doesn’t tell you anything about the story, but for once, in a way that actually made sense to me, because it made me want to know more.


Under the Pendulum Sun

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What is going on with that sun. Why is it a pendulum. And, most of all, what is going on with that cover was my whole thought process before I bought it. Instant cover buy, and the title did its part. It’s unusual and weird and intriguing and makes sense for the story, which can’t be said about many titles.


A Song for Quiet

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We love oxymorons just as much as we love evil eldritch music taking over people and summoning Lovecraftian Old Ones in the middle of the night!


What are your favorite titles? Have you read any of these?

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.

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?

Weekly

T10T: Out of My Comfort Zone

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 I Enjoyed That Are Outside of My Comfort Zone.

If you want to read more about this topic, I have an ongoing series of posts about reading genres and formats I don’t usually read, Out of My Comfort Zone. Some of the next topics might be either adult thrillers, middle grade contemporary or adult literary fiction. (Let me know which one you’d like me to focus on first!)


The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

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I’ve always avoided historical romance. As someone who usually ends up being bored by both non-historical romance and non-romance historical, combining the two things didn’t seem like a good idea.

However, making things gay also makes things automatically more interesting, apparently, because I loved the romance in this book so much. The writing was perfect, the atmosphere too, and the scientist/artist f/f romance was everything. And while it’s set in 1816, it’s not a story about how hard it is to be gay! It’s fun and it’s happy and it was all it needed to be.


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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YA fantasy, especially f/f YA fantasy, is perfectly within my comfort zone. Books about girls who are forced to basically be sex slaves definitely are not.

This… wasn’t painless. I said in my review that if you’ve ever been forced to do things that you found humiliating or violating, even though they’re not even remotely similar to (or of the magnitude of) what the main character goes through, this will bring them up in your head, so be careful with it. And it was still worth it for me. It’s a beautiful story about resistance and about a forbidden queer romance born in an unlikely, dark place; the descriptions of this world (which is Malaysian and Chinese-inspired, too) are so beautiful that I wanted to see it, even though it’s the kind of place I would never want to be in.

(It still meant that I ended up DNFing a book that dealt with a similar topic a few days later, Empire of Sand, because I couldn’t do this anymore.)


The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

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This novel had so many things I should hate in it. Senseless slaughter. Realistic-feeling military training. Depressing atmosphere. A world devastated by climate change. War, war, war. Corporations rule the world. Extremely confusing timeline due to continuous time jumps. But if a book has so many things I hate in it and I still end up not hating it and I think about it… if not every day, at least every week months after I read it, it means that it’s great.

This is one of the worst and best things I’ve ever read, at the same time.


Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda

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I might have a medium-to-high tolerance for gore in a written format, but I have no tolerance at all when it comes to movies, or, as this graphic novel showed me, to drawings. But it’s so beautiful and queer and angry that it was worth it anyway, even though it’s all but a light read, especially for a graphic novel. This is now one of my favorite series, and I can’t wait for the next installment.


Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

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This is about the rise of fascism in a fictional world.

It is, together with Girls of Paper and Fire, probably one of the most painful things I’ve ever read in my life. I don’t think I would be able to reread it, especially now. And yet… I loved it. I loved it because it is a laugh in the face of overwhelming horror, it’s a reminder that things can still be done and life doesn’t stop there, and it’s for the most part an unambiguously fun book, with intrigue and romance. That doesn’t diminish its message: I actually think that books that try to handle heavy topics without humor forget one of humans’ favorite coping mechanisms, and from a writing standpoint, it works better than endless misery – it never lets you get used to to the pain, so it hurts more when things inevitably fall apart.


Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter

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This is a contemporary fantasy story with horror aspects following an abusive and incestuous relationship between two foster siblings, and it’s as unpleasant as YA gets. It’s also a beautiful story about getting out of said toxic relationship, and finding… if not healing, at least a beginning, told from the point of view of a genderqueer person.

It has one of the best character arcs I’ve ever read, but if I said that I actually enjoyed any part of it, I would be lying.


Twisted Romance (edited by) Alex de Campi

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Graphic novels and anthologies aren’t something I reach for that often to begin with, and this one is both – it’s made of short stories both in a traditional format and as short comics. Also, it’s about romance.

The fact that this is specifically about “unusual romance” – both in the sense that many of these stories are paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi, and in the sense that here you’ll find characters that have often been excluded from mainstream romance, from polyamorous women to kinky queer people and asexual men – meant that I ended up loving it. A surprising amount of my problems with the romance genre come from what people think a happy ending should look like (monogamous couple – which, if the main character is a woman in a full-length novel, is almost always heterosexual), which never applied to this.


Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

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I don’t read a lot of middle grade, because my experiences with it in the last few years have mostly been negative. It probably has to do with the fact that the most popular middle grade books of the decade are Rick Riordan’s, and I really don’t like his style – and yes, what is popular does affect what gets published.

I didn’t know how I was going to feel about this at first (it is a RR presents book) but this… this was gorgeous and it reminded me a little of how I felt when I read The Golden Compass. It felt wild and free in ways adult and YA books just don’t, and middle-school-Acqua would have loved this. And it is the casually queer and trans novel middle-school-Acqua needed so much, too.


The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

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Poetry is really hit-or-miss for me, especially when it comes to poetry novels. I loved The Poet X and haven’t had any luck since, but then I found out about this and bought it on a whim. Best decision of the entire month of August! This is a coming-of-age story about a gay biracial black boy as he and finds himself through drag culture and poetry, and while it wasn’t as solid on an individual poem level as The Poet X, it was less shaky in terms of storyline, and just as beautiful.

Sometimes, picking up random things because they sound good actually works?


The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé

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I have talked about this book many times on this blog, because it’s one of my all-time favorites and probably the book that has affected my perception of myself more deeply since I started reading (the best portrayal of anxiety I’ve ever read, and from the point of view of a queer girl: the things representation can do). One thing I don’t often say is that before reading this novel, I thought I didn’t like horror.

Horror is still not in my comfort zone, but now I know that I can like it, when it talks about mental illness in a sensitive way and not for shock value.


Have you read any of these? Do you often find favorites outside your comfort zone?