WRAP UP: April & May 2020

Between COVID, the protests, and going back to work, I feel like the last four weeks have been a non-stop roller coaster of emotions and willingness to do anything that ultimately feels frivolous, like posting on social media and writing blog posts, because neither of those things seem important compared to what’s going on right now. But, I think having a place to share ideas and a place to write is important for me, so I’m working on how to navigate and use this space now and in the future.

Black Lives Matter. There’s no question about it. I’ve always thought myself to be progressive, but one thing that’s come to light for me recently is how much I still have to learn and how much I’ll always have to learn. I’m listening, I am working on unpacking my thirty-three years of living in privilege, and I am making a promise to myself to be better. I know I’ll make mistakes, but I am willing to put in the work, take responsibility, and do better. Not just now, but for the rest of my life. This carrd and this google doc/spreadsheet have a lot of information about protests, where to donate, and where to educate yourself. As a reminder, do your own research and do not ask Black people to do the work for you! There are many resources available online that people are sharing.

I also failed completely at Wyrd and Wonder, but this was also because I joined last-minute and didn’t plan anything. For 2021, I’ll be on the lookout for the initial post and hopefully be better about planning posts! I think for the time being I’ll have a set schedule, so I’m going to work on scheduling 2-3 posts a week (either reviews or lists of books I’ve read/want to read) just to keep my blog active and get my writing chops back because I feel like I’ve got a case of quarantine brain and nothing I write seems to make much sense to me anymore.

Now onto the reading!

In April, I read:

  • This Time Will Be Different, by Misa Sugiura (4/5 stars)
  • To Have and to Hoax, by Martha Waters (4/5 stars)
  • Be Prepared, by Vera Brosgol and Alex Lonstreth (3.5/5 stars)
  • Strange Love, by Ann Aguire (4/5 stars)
  • Sin Eater, by Megan Campisi (4/5 stars)
  • Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor, by Peter Wars (3/5 stars)
  • The Girl in the White Gloves, by Kerri Maher (3/5 stars)
  • Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado (5/5 stars)
  • Beheld – TaraShea Nesbit (4/5 stars)
  • To Catch an Earl, by Kate Bateman (3/5 stars)
  • Crown of Three, by J.D. Rinehart (4/5 stars)
  • Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson (4/5 stars)
  • Jagannath, by Karin Tidbeck (3/5 stars)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (4/5 stars)

In May, I read:

  • Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow, ed. Kristen Berg, Torie Bosch, et all (4/5 stars)
  • The Deep, by Alma Katsu (4/5 stars)
  • Death by Shakespeare, by Kathryn Harkup (4/5 stars)
  • Notre-Dame de Paris, by Victor Hugo (4/5 stars)
  • Prince Charming, by Rachel Hawkins (4/5 stars)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper (4/5 stars)
  • The Queen of Blood, by Sarah Beth Durst (4/5 stars)
  • The Wrong Mr. Darcy, by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lorincz (DNF)
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)
  • Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire (5/5 stars)
  • Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson (5/5 stars)
  • Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins (4/5 stars)

I read quite a bit during quarantine (statistically double each month than the previous six months), but one thing I’ve noticed is that I have a lot of books by BIPOC authors that I’ve bought but haven’t read (some for YEARS), so for the rest of the year, I am going to shift my reading focus to actually reading those and posting about them on social media and here on this blog. Next year I will likely do a full-year shift to reading more works across the board by BIPOC and non-white writers and continue that focus from here on out. It’s so easy to fall into reading “comforting” things that generally trend toward white writers, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I can do better about stepping out of that comfort zone.

I also want to finish series that I’ve started but have never finished, so along with my 20 in 20 books challenge and my classics challenge, I’m going to try to finish up as many book series as I can! This includes N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, Sarah J. Maas’ ACOTAR + TOG, Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia series, and likely others that I’m currently forgetting.

What have you read in the last month that really stuck out with you? How do you see yourself changing your perspectives on reading in the coming months and years?

Waiting on Wednesday, YA SFF edition!

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 YA SFF books that I can’t wait to read!

INTO THE CROOKED PLACE – ALEXANDRA CHRISTO

Even though I still haven’t read To Kill a Kingdom, Alexandra Christo’s upcoming gangster fantasy about a girl “who delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.” Sign me up! This releases October 8, 2019!

THE MAGNOLIA SWORD – SHERRY THOMAS

I love reimaginings of popular stories, and a Mulan retelling?? Yes, please. I have Sherry Thomas’s Charlotte Holmes series on my TBR right now (sensing a theme here…), and I’ve heard such good things about her writing. I’m excited to read her version of Mulan! It’s out September 10, 2019!

THE MERCIFUL CROW – MARGARET OWEN

All of this just sounds amazing, and I’m so here for more crows and bird-related imagery in fantasy. Crows especially bring up the imagery of cunning darkness, so I’m hoping for that to be reflected in this and the next title! It releases July 30, 2019!

THE STORM CROW – KALYN JOSEPHSON

Elemental, magical crows? Sisters? Taking back what was taken from them? Yes, thank you. This comes out July 9, 2019.

WAR GIRLS – TOCHI ONYEBUCHI

Bionic limbs, post-nuclear disaster survival, political unrest, and two sisters who dream of more. This cover looks amazing, and I’m here for the intersection of humanity and mech and hope for a better future.

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

FIRST CHAPTER, FIRST PARAGRAPH: Rouge, by Richard Kirshenbaum

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea! Today I’m featuring Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum, sent to me by St. Martin’s Press for review! Rouge is a fictional account of the first women to build major corporations in America based upon their own creations – namely beauty products. The novel follows four main characters who are all intertwined with each other throughout the decades as business and profits grow while personal lives become more and more entangled with personal and professional rivalries. I’ll have a full review posted next week, so keep your eyes out for that, but for now, enjoy this little sneak peak!

 

New York City, 1933

A Technicolor sky hung over the city even though it was only early May. At times, even New York City seemed to have caught the bug. The pear trees that bloomed like white fireworks every April may as well have sprouted palm trees. Everyone, it seemed, had just stepped out of a Garbo movie, and Josephine Herz (née Josiah Herzenstein) would be damned if she would not capitalize on this craze.

A young, well-kept woman was the first to grace her newly opened, eponymous salon on Fifth Avenue. With bleached-blond “marcelled” hair, a substantial bust, and a mouth that looked as though it had been carved from a pound of chopped meat, her new client had all the ammunition to entrap any man in the city, to keep him on the dole, and her cosmetic hygienist, in this case Herz Beauty, on the payroll. She lowered herself onto the padded leather salon chair like a descending butterfly and batted her eyes as though they too might flutter from her face.

I’ve taken this from the actual first chapter, rather than the prologue, and included a bit more than just the first paragraph. What do you think? Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a complimentary review copy! Stay tuned for a full review next week!

MONTHLY WRAP UP: MAY 2019

Hello, reader friends! I haven’t done a monthly wrap up in literally forever, so I thought now that we’re halfway through the year, I’d start doing it again! (Please note the mild case of sarcasm and self-loathing in the previous sentence…) May ended up being a really great reading month, and I read twelve books! I also updated my personal book bullet journal and realized I set up some challenges for myself that I don’t know if I ever announced on my blog, so I’ll be writing a little bit about those and giving a status update. Sometimes I think publicly making some kind of announcement/commitment is the only way I’ll follow through with half the things I want to do… so anyway, without further adieu, here’s the list of books I read in May!

  1. Star Wars: Poe Dameron, v.1: Black Squadron – Chris Soule (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  2. A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do – Pete Fromm (arc from publisher) – 4/5 stars
  3. Exhalation – Ted Chiang (arc from work) – 5/5 stars
  4. Work Optional – Tanja Hester (finished copy from publisher) – 3/5 stars
  5. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Fred Rogers (e-arc from publisher/Netgalley) – 5/5 stars
  6. The Unquiet Heart – Kaite Welsh (e-arc from publisher/Netgalley) – 4/5 stars
  7. Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell (finished copy/borrowed) – 4/5 stars
  8. Wicked and the Wallflower – Sarah MacLean (finished copy/borrowed) – 4/5 stars
  9. Descendant of the Crane – Joan He (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  10. Bibliophile – Jane Mount (purchased) – 4/5 stars
  11. Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane (finished copy from publisher) – 4/5 stars
  12. The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg (arc from work) – 4/5 stars

The average rating for my May books is 4.08/5! I think I put some half stars here and there in my blog reviews, but I’m going off of my Goodreads ratings for this average. I think I had a decent reading month! It didn’t feel like I read a lot, but so far May is the month with the most reads!

I’ve really been enjoying blogging more as it makes me feel more accomplished about what I’m doing with my reading, but I definitely want to stay in the groove of posting 3-5 times a week (or more). I also want to start posting on Instagram more, and last week I took a ton of photos to use for this month and next month. I’m going to try taking more this week just so I can have a steady backlog, and I might see about using Planoly to help with keeping a nice “grid” and to help with reminders to post. I have a scatterbrain, and sometimes I just don’t remember unless I have a reminder. Setting up with Planoly might help as I can use my laptop to type out captions and all that jazz, and that’s so much easier to do than with a phone keyboard… I also will be updating some of the pages on the blog and maybe adding the challenge lists I have in my book journal so I can keep track here as well!

Last year, I set up some yearly challenges for me to follow through with, and I did about half of them. I wanted to read twelve Star Wars books (I read four), twelve Star Trek books (I read zero), twelve “classics” (I read three and then included the eighty Penguin Little Black Classics in increments of 10 to account for most of them; I ended up “reading” eleven by that justification), twelve non-fiction (I read twelve!), and twelve science fiction books (I read eight). I also tried to do 30 days of 30 short stories, but I just sort of stopped around story fifteen. I think it’s because I didn’t mention anywhere that I was doing it, and I had no follow up publicly with myself over it. Overall, and especially considering I read eighty of those Little Black Classics, I think I did all right.

This year, however, I want to read twelve Hugo/Nebula award winners to tie in with #sffreverb (of which I’ve severely let myself down with across the board and have only read one), twelve romance (last year I got into the genre a lot, and I want to read more; I’ve read one so far), twelve NYRB Classics (I’ve read zero), twelve classics (I’ve read zero), twelve historical fiction (I’ve read five), and twelve YA (I buy so much of it but I haven’t read much of it at all, especially last year?? Why am I like this? I’ve read five so far). These are the official lists I have in my book bullet journal, but I also “unofficially” want to read more middle grade, works by LGBTQIA+ writers, works by marginalized writers, and non-fiction books about space/astronauts/the space race (it’s been fifty years since the moon landing?? ahh). One of these days I’ll make a post of my book bullet journal and the lists I’ve made myself, so you can see that!

I also did Whole30 during May, and it helped me realize a lot about my eating habits in general. Reintroduction has been fine, so I’m also happy I don’t seem to have any sensitivities to food. I just need to keep instilling those better eating habits!

In June, I’m not going to give myself a set TBR. I have a lot going on, and I’m just going to read on a whim (with exceptions to review copies that I want to have reviews done for on time) and work on whittling down my Netgalley queue and my physical TBR. It’s summertime now, and I should have a less structured month! (But let’s be real, most of my reading months are entirely unstructured…)

How was your reading May? What are you going to do for June?

new blog!

I finally caved and bought a very specific book-related domain name! My old one was just a catch-all for everything, and I didn’t feel it felt the theme I wanted to convey – books! One of my friends calls me the fairy bookmother because I always have something to recommend or say about books, and he thinks it’s a bit magical that I have that ability, so I decided to move forward with it!

For the last month and a half (I’m so terrible at this when I get stressed!) have been busy with some minor changes and some big ones. The big one is me teaching at a college level! I’m teaching an introduction to literature of sorts that’s also combined with learning how to write a literary/research essay, and I’m excited! It’s a lot of work, and I’m doing my best to keep on top of that while managing to still work at my other full-time job.

As a result of that busy-ness, I haven’t done as much reading as I would like, but I’ve got a few reviews coming up! I think I may have an update schedule now that I’ve sort of got a regular schedule in regards to evenings being off, so as of now, I’ll have posts on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, maybe with some sprinklings in between! I think those are totally manageable for me. It’ll give me time to work on content and think of content and write those reviews! I miss writing about books, whether or not in an academic sense, as much as I miss reading books as much as I used to.

Anyway, like before, I’ll have reviews mostly of contemporary, literary, sci/fi and fantasy, and young adult! I’m going to be posting my review of Ernest Cline’s Armada here on Thursday! I’ve been putting it off for too long, and it needs to get posted!