Waiting on Wednesday, SFF edition!

Oof, the last time I did a post like this was back in October! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m highlighting some new/upcoming fantasy books that I can’t wait to read!

GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth “unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.” Rebecca Roanhorse calls it the “Gothic space fantasy” she didn’t know she needed. Um. GIVE IT TO ME. September is TOO FAR AWAY. It releases September 10, 2019!

AN ILLUSION OF THIEVES – CATE GLASS

Being a sorcerer is a death sentence. But “when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.” Magic and politics and an amazing cover? Yesss. I actually preordered this one, and I’m going to read it soon! It released May 21, 2019.

THE GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW – SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

The “Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore” and it’s set in the Jazz Age? Give me those fairy tales, and give me them set in the Jazz Age because I think it’s a perfect setting for some “modern” fairy tales. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Gods of Jade and Shadow comes out July 23, 2019.

SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK – SAM SYKES

I’ve followed Sam for a long time on Twitter and I think he’s hilarious, and I still haven’t read any of his books. I bought The City Stained Red forever ago, but something about Seven Blades in Black is calling to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for stories told by people after the fact and I like somewhat unreliable narrators. She was “betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.” It came out April 9, 2019!

THE HARP OF KINGS – JULIET MARILLIER

I read Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest ages ago as part of my “must read all the fairy tale retellings” (and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m due for a reread of some of those books), and I remember really falling in love with the world she created. When I saw that she was coming out with a new series about a WARRIOR BARD who needs to find and retrieve a “precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing” AND “if the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom.” As soon as I read that, I WAS LIKE SIGN ME UP.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months?

BOOK TAG: The TBR Book Tag

I found this TBR book tag on Rae’s blog, Thrifty Bibliophile, and decided to do it! I’m partially a mood reader who likes the structure of a TBR when I can’t think of anything else to read. It’s a little reminder that I set parameters for myself and I actually do have something new to read!


HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TBR LIST?

I keep a stack near my bed of immediate reads like ARCS, review copies, and maybe a small paper list for a monthly TBR, but otherwise I use Goodreads!

If you aren’t following me on Goodreads yet, let’s be friends!

 

IS YOUR TBR MOSTLY PRINT OR E-BOOK?

Ha, it’s mostly print, but I have been taking advantage of too many e-book sales.

 

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHICH BOOK FROM YOUR TBR TO READ NEXT?

I’m a little bit of a mood reader and a little bit of a planner. If I have reviews due soon, I’ll likely pick up the ARC/review copy so I can cross that off my list. A lot of the times I’ll just pick up a book I’ve just got or I’ve been meaning to read and go from there.

 

A BOOK THAT HAS BEEN ON YOUR TBR THE LONGEST:

According to Goodreads, it’s Peter York’s The Blue Riband: The Piccadilly Line, which is part of a series of Penguin books celebrating the London Underground. I never got around to buying them while I was over there, and I’ve not thought about them since. Hmm. Maybe this means I need to do another clean up of my Goodreads shelves…

 

A BOOK THAT YOU RECENTLY ADDED TO YOUR TBR LIST:

I added a lot to my Goodreads want to read shelf on Saturday, but Tochi Onyebuchi’s War Girls is one that I can’t wait to read!

 

A BOOK ON YOUR TBR STRICTLY BECAUSE OF ITS BEAUTIFUL COVER:

I saw Colette the film and I don’t know if I’ll ever really get around to reading this, but I love the cover.

 

A BOOK ON YOUR TBR THAT YOU NEVER PLAN ON ACTUALLY READING:

Every Single Second, by Tricia Springstubb. So I’m deleting it right now.

 

AN UNPUBLISHED BOOK ON YOUR TBR THAT YOU’RE EXCITED FOR:

TAMSYN MUIR’S GIDEON THE NINTH!!!!!

 

A BOOK ON YOUR TBR THAT BASICALLY EVERYONE HAS READ BUT YOU:

V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful

 

A BOOK ON YOUR TBR EVERYONE RECOMMENDS YOU:

Probably Jasper Fforde’s stuff. I read The Eyre Affair many years ago, but never got around to reading anything else of his.

 

A BOOK ON YOUR TBR YOU’RE VERY EXCITED TO READ:

Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree.

THE NUMBER OF BOOKS ON YOUR GOODREADS TBR SHELF:

846. I did a cleanout last summer and obviously added more. I might go back and do some rearranging this summer and continue to do it every year!

 

I TAG…

Whoever wants to do this tag!

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea! I’m working on bringing back some old features I used to like posting while working on some new ones, and posting a first chapter, first paragraph sort of deal was always fun for me. I never really stuck to new or old books, but today, as I’m going through more of my bookshelves, I chose The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I’ve had this on my shelves for far too long, and when I opened up the first page, I was really struck by the lyricism of Krauss’ opening chapter. I know this book has been on many favorites lists and it was a bestseller for a while, and I think it’s high time I read this.

When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT. I’m surprised I haven’t been buried alive. The place isn’t big. I have to struggle to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen table, kitchen table and front door. If I want to get from the toilet to the front door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table. I like to imagine the bed as home plate, the toilet as first, the kitchen table as second, and the front door as third: should the doorbell ring while I am lying in bed, I have to round the toilet and the kitchen table in order to arrive at the door. If it happens to be Bruno, I let him in without a word and then jog back to bed, the roar of the invisible crowd ringing in my ears.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: 2019 Adult SFF

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m highlighting three adult SFF books coming out in 2019 that I’m dying to read.

Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade is a book I’ve been waiting to read ever since it was announced. Hurley became one of my favorite authors after I read The Stars are Legion early last year, and I’ve slowly been enjoying the rest of her work. I want to read everything, but I also want to leave some left for the time in between her other works. The Light Brigade is “what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat” (from the blurb). A fresh recruit named Dietz’s drops are different than other’s experiences in the war and it becomes a struggle to figure out what is real and what isn’t in the midst of war.

Before the film Arrival came out in theaters, Vintage Anchor released Ted Chiang’s collection of short stories and I devoured them over the course of a few days. His stories are some of the best I have ever read, and I’m incredibly excited for Exhalation. From the blurb: “In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth–What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?–and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.” Why isn’t this in my hands yet??

A People’s Future of the United States is an anthology edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams and aside from the play on A People’s History of the United States, I’m incredibly excited for the lineup of authors included in this anthology. LaValle and Adams “asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in. They also asked that the stories be badass. The result is this extraordinary collection of twenty-five stories that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship—whether it’s the othered and the oppressed, or dragonriders and covert commandos—but these characters don’t flee, they fight.” YESSSS.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books That Surprised Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is the top ten books that surprised you (in a good way or a bad way), and I’m going to go with the more positive route, because usually if books are surprisingly bad, I just stop reading them or choose to forget about them (unless they’re legitimately awful. And that’s pretty rare).

My list will focus on the top ten books that surprised me in 2017, so it’s functioning sort of as a recap for last year’s reading as well, since I was a little lazy and perturbed by the lack of functioning keyboard to have any desire to write anything. Anyway, this list is not in ranking order, but in order from when I read it in the year, from the beginning of 2017 to the end of the year.

  • The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. I think I read this many, many years ago when I was much younger and much less aware of what science fiction could do in terms of exploring humanity and culture instead of merely exploring space. Ai, the main character of this book, is at first unsettled by the sense of duality and ambisexuality on Gethen, and this unsettled feeling is a direct exploration of how gender functions in our own society (granted, in 1969, the much-broadcast definitions were a little different than the conversations we’re having today, so some of it feels outdated). However, a lot of it feels so relevant, and it made me think and it made me wonder, and I think that’s what some of the best science fiction should do. “It is yin and yang. Light is the left hand of darkness… how did it go? Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow.”
  • The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Ever since I got my hands on an ARC from the table at work, I’ve been telling everyone I know to read this book. It’s relevant, it’s nuanced, it’s heart-wrenching. Though often hilarious and heartwarming at times, Thomas’s novel further reveals to us the consistent, prevalent institutional racism and broken criminal justice system in America in which so many people (without consequence!) continue to violate the civil rights of thousands because of the color of their skin. It will break your heart; it will make you angry. Read it. “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
  • The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley. I read this book a year ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It’s sci-fi just how I like it. It’s gross, it’s visceral, and it’s an angry yell into the void of space. I mean, don’t you want to read about asexual ships that give birth to whatever the ship needs, cannibalistic women who eat their deformed young, and womb/uterus/placenta references (with all of the associated fluids) all over the place? Yes, you do. I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot or the characters because half of the enjoyment of this is getting to discover that for yourself. Just read it. ASAP. “When you understand what the world is, you have two choices: Become a part of that world and perpetuate that system forever and ever, unto the next generation. Or fight it, and break it, and build something new. The former is safer, and easier. The latter is scarier, because who is to say what you build will be any better?”
  • The Paper Menagerie, by Ken Liu. The thing I liked most about this collection of stories, aside from Liu’s deft skill at writing and blending several different genres, is that so many of the stories focus on the idea of storytelling and what that means for us as people and as a society. In the collection, you’ll read about the ways in which species across the universe record their stories for the present and the future (“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”), the ways in which society tells us stories to keep us controlled and how difficult it is to break the illusions (“Perfect Match”), the literal power of words (“The Literomancer”), and the literal preservation of memory to be “read” and its upsides and pitfalls (“Simulacrum”).  “Time’s arrow is the loss of fidelity in compression. A sketch, not a photograph. A memory is a re-creation, precious because it is both more and less than the original.”
  • Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville. Moby-Dick functions best for you, dear reader, when you are familiar with the history of the novel. I think I read this at a pertinent time in my life. Had I read it before I learned the history of the narrative, the novel, the American novel, religion and its function in the American novel, the personal life of Melville (and by extension Hawthorne), and postmodernism (and one can argue whether or not this novel is considered postmodern, but it’s different than anything else I’ve read from the time period and knowing how postmodernism works in a literary setting adds to my own consumption and enjoyment of the novel on some level because its lucidity is very much like James Joyce’s style), I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now. It’s a hefty novel, a undertaking, but it’s so incredibly worth it. It’s a love story, and you will wonder whether or not you are chasing your own white whale. “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.”
  • The Whole Art of Detection, by Lyndsay Faye. I am so particular about my Sherlock Holmes pastiches. It’s so difficult to capture the essence of Doyle’s original stories while simultaneously making it new, and Faye does this with exemplary flair. All of these stories feel at once rooted in time and timeless, and Faye manages this with her effortless, captivating writing. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes in any capacity and love a good historical mystery, read this right away. Dust and Shadow, a mystery in which Holmes and Watson discover the true identity of Jack the Ripper, is just as engaging. “In the broad light of day, I could not give his tale nearly so much credence as I had granted it when sitting rapt before a midnight fireplace whilst the tempest without erased the natural world.”
  • Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer. This is one of those cerebral post-apocalyptic dystopian novels that will linger with you long after you finish it. This standalone novel from the author of the Southern Reach trilogy explores how humans abuse science and nature for technological or monetary gain, and Borne shows us the aftermath of that greed. The novel also explores what it means to be a person, what it means to love and then to let go of love, what it means to live and then to die, and what it means when one finds beauty in the midst of so much chaos. VanderMeer manages to pack so much description, emotion, and longing into such a short novel, and it’s a novel that will make you reread passages and sentences again and again because of their beauty and complexity. The companion novella, The Strange Bird, is just as compelling. “He was born, but I had borne him.”
  • Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen. This is a supernatural Western, and it’s AMAZING. This follows Nettie Lonesome, a half-black half-Comanche young woman, who sets out to discover herself, her identity, and her place in the world only to discover that there are monsters lurking everywhere. This is steeped in Native American folklore with a hefty dash of that Old West mythology. Nettie is resilient, disguises herself up as a man and takes on a new name or two in order to get what she wants out of life, and begins to use her skills for the betterment of herself and others once she realizes she has the capacity to do so. It’s also a fantastic story with so many twists and turns, and you won’t be able to put it down, because I certainly couldn’t. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. “Your heart is not a rock that stands unchanging. It’s like water. It flows, it moves, it allows neither boulders nor canyons to stand in its way. It hardens and softens and expands to fill new spaces. You are still becoming yourself. And you have a lot to learn.”
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I really didn’t know what to expect from this when I received it as part of BookSparks’s summer reading challenge, but I didn’t expect to read a heartfelt story of a woman of color navigating that man’s world called Hollywood. It was such a breezy, gossipy (but deep) read, and it’s about Evelyn Hugo coming clean about her life and owning up to her flaws and essentially wanting to become real after being put on a pedestal her entire life. It’s about coming to terms with the reality that behind someone’s “perfect life” is a person who struggles with themselves and their daily lives just as much as the rest of us. I don’t really cry at books, but this one got me teary-eyed more than once, and that’s saying something. “They are just husbands. I am Evelyn Hugo. And anyway, I think once people know the truth, they will be much more interested in my wife.”
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang. I have so many feelings about this book (and this series), and all of them are good. SO GOOD. If you like -punk genres, you need to read this. If you like stories exploring identity and gender and what it means to be a person, you need to read this. If you just like engaging fantasy, you need to read this. In Yang’s Protectorate, gender is chosen (or not) by the person and sexuality is fluid, and it’s such an amazing exploration on those subjects. It made me feel less alone on the subject of presentation, and I think it’s one of those books that will make other people feel less alone on so many fronts. The second part is just as moving, and I am eagerly awaiting the third. “The saying goes, ‘The black tides of heaven direct the courses of human lives’. To which a wise teacher said, ‘But as with all the waters, one can swim against the tide.'”

After compiling this, a majority of the books have a similar theme: identity, discovery, and what it means to be yourself, and for me, 2017 was a lot of that, so it’s interesting to note that the books I read last year that have stuck with me reflect that theme as well.