Introducing Jessica: a SFF Cohort

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be joining Karena as we tackle the Hodderscape 2020 SFF reading challenge! Karena and I bonded over our shared love of all things SFF (but specifically The Night Circus) and have spent a huge chunk of our friendship shouting at each other about books.

About me: I’m a lesbian children’s librarian with an affinity for magic in my books and whiskey in my coffee. I live with a chaos demon (read: tabby cat) who I named after a character in The Night Circus. I have a half dozen literary tattoos. When I’m not reading, I’m….well, I’m usually reading, but I’m also a runner and enjoy cooking and knitting.

My SFF origin story: You know, I can’t really remember a time before I loved SFF. My mom handed me The Hobbit when I was 8, and it was love from then on out. I went to school with Harry Potter and dreamed about doorways in closets to icy wonderlands and read too much Stephen King at much too young an age and played Zelda games on my GameBoy Color until my eyes went buggy.
Then I grew up. I grew up, and someone at some point told me that fantasy wasn’t “cool” anymore. So I dutifully read my classics and whatever was assigned to me in school and I got degrees in English and Comparative Literature and only read Very Serious stuff for years. (There were a lot of cishet white dudes during that period of my life.)
When I quit my PhD program, I wanted to learn how to really love books again. I went back for the classics that I loved as a kid – Lord of the Rings and Stephen King and the like, and then I started exploring the SFF section of bookstores more. An incredible thing had happened during the time that I was away – SFF woke up. Suddenly, there were more women on the shelves! And more than cishet white dudes saving the world between the pages! And there was so much queerness! The worlds in these books were bigger and more beautiful and more interesting than anything I had been asked to read in college. I found underground libraries and magical circuses and spaceships full of found family. I traveled between Londons and lived through the fifth season and caught a sexually transmitted city. I started reading high fantasy and science fiction and middle grade fantasy and urban fantasy and magical realism and…you get the idea. I fell back in love with reading. Now, you can find me at school with Mia Corvere and Ivy Gamble and dreaming about doorways to worlds of salt and ink and reading too much Catherynne Valente.

The Quick Sheet:
My wheelhouse: Queer ladies doing awesome things with magic or in spaceships or both.
Authors on my autobuy list: Catherynne Valente. Seanan McGuire. Erin Morgenstern. NK Jemisin. VE Schwab. Sarah Gailey. (Okay, my wallet just started screaming in protest, so I’m stopping there.)
What’s on my TBR: Right now? Godsgrave, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been so invested in a series that I had to grab the sequel immediately. Blue is the Warmest Color and We Set the Dark on Fire for my Coven Challenge. A reread of Drive Here and Devastate Me. A Mirror Empire because I’ve seen it pop up a bunch recently. And A Memory Called Empire for this challenge!
Which books on the Challenge I’m looking forward to reading: All of them? No, but seriously. If I have to choose, The City We Became and Docile have been on my list for a long time, and I know those two will inspire a special amount of screaming with Karena.
What do I do when I’m not reading: Training for my next race (currently the Brooklyn 2020 half marathon). Still playing Zelda games (just now on my Switch) until my eyes go buggy.


Bout of Books 27: Day 3

No challenge today. well technically there was, but it’s one looking for recommendations and 1) I don’t need recommendations at the moment and 2) it’s meant for their comments section. So let’s get on with the update!

I finished Daisy Jones and the Six. It was so good. I got so stuck in genre last year that I barely made a dent in anything else. I had so many people tell me how good it was. I will admit for the longest time, I thought it was a nonfiction about some band I’d never heard of (let’s be real. I don’t know about a lot of bands so this wasn’t that surprising). It was told in the style of an oral history that really added to the story. It was way more fun to follow the band’s journey with the back and forth of all the members and the people around them. I give it 5 stars for sure.

Fuck yes, Daisy.

I also finished Nevernight, my read along book. According to Goodreads it was my 3rd reread of it and I still love it. Jay Kristoff is a sneaky sadist shit and I love him. I don’t say that lightly. There aren’t very many cis straight white authors who can entertain me the way he does (maybe Nicholas Eames).

Total pages read: 357. Not bad. I mean, it’s nothing compared to the previous day, but to be fair yesterday I was battling some wicked allergies so I’m content with what I did accomplish.

How’s your Bout of Books going? What are you reading?

SFF Shenanigans with Jessica and Karena

My friend Jessica and I are going to be tackling Hodderscape’s 2019 challenge but in 2020. You will be seeing posts from her as we’ve decided to tackle our book selections together. Here is the list we’re planning on reading for the year.

A book based on mythology or folkloreThe Sisters GrimmMerena van Praag
A non-fiction book by a SFF authorBroken Places and Outer SpacesNnedi Okorafor
A work of sci-fi or fantasy in translationThus Were Their FacesSilvia Ocampo
A book being adapted for movie or TV in 2019/2020TBD
A novel featuring dragonsTurning Darkness into LightMarie Brennan
A work of sci-fi by a woman or non-binary authorChilling EffectValerie Valdes
A book told from multiple character POVsDocileK.M. Szpara
A book with a non-human protagonistThe City We BecameN.K. Jemisin
A retelling of a classic fairytaleGirls Made of Snow and GlassMelissa Bashardoust
A book set in a dystopian futureRiot BabyTochi Onyebuchi
A book set on a different planet or space stationA Memory Called EmpireArkady Martine
A book inspired by real-world historyCreatures of Want and RuinMolly Tanzer

Our first book for January is going to be A Memory Called Empire. It’s on the longer side so we are going to start out strong. It’s a space opera where most of the characters are queer. Huzzah! I also found this article on Strange Horizons with the author Arkady Martine which was pretty fascinating. Jessica and I will report back at the end of January with our thoughts. Also if you’re interested in following along, we’ll be using the hashtag #JKShenanigansSFF

Do you have any suggestions for 2019/2020 adaptions? Let us know in the comments. We are trying to veer away from the straight cis white dudes if possible.

Bout of Books 27: Day 2

Share Your 2020 Reading Goals is today’s Bout of Books’ challenge. Well. My husband has been badgering me for awhile and this year since i’m not currently working, I decided to try it. I’m going for 365. I’ve gotten close to it before. In 2016, I managed 350, so it’s possible! The trick is making sure my books are not just white lady historical romance novels as that’s the easiest way for me to consume books.

Also how did my first day go you ask? I’m pretty chuffed to be honest. I managed to catch up with Jessica (you’ll be meeting her soon) on our Nevernight readalong and finished 81 pages. Then even though I was only supposed to read 9 chapters of Lonesome Dove, I got hooked and ended up reading 41 chapters which amounts to 287 pages. I meant to finish Daisy Jones and the Six, but then my youngest spawn asked to watch a couple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and who am I to say no? Especially since one of those episodes is The Wish and not only do we meet Anya, but we also get Vampire Willow and…I digress. I did manage 94 pages of Daisy Jones so it wasn’t a complete wash. The only negative is I didn’t finish a book so according to Goodreads, I’m behind.

Today’s plan? Well, depending on where my friend gets with Nevernight, I may or may not finish that. Definitely Daisy Jones will be finished. I also need to start A Memory Called Empire for the SFF Challenge.

How did your first day go? What are your plans with your second?

Bout of Books 27: Day 1

Today’s challenge I think is supposed to be just a twitter challenge, but here we are. Introduce yourself in six words: High volume reader with snarky opinions. Now for those of you who have been around, you know. But for anyone finding me through the readathon: Welcome!

I read a lot. Like a lot a lot. I average around 300 books a year, give or take. I mostly can be found in either the romance or science fiction/fantasy sections respectively, but also foray into feminist studies, biographies, essay collections, and the occasional history aisles as well. I was a bookseller in California for nigh 3 years and now live in Pennsylvania where I’m focusing more on writing. Writing what? I am not sure, but we’re gonna see where it goes.

The books on the docket this week are mostly going to be from my reading challenges that I’ve decided to partake in. We have Lonesome Dove for my #covenbookchallenge and A Memory Called Empire for the SFF challenge created by Hodderscape. I also am buddy reading Nevernight with my cohort Jessica. It’s a reread for me and I’m pacing myself to her and it’s letting me take more time with the characters than I have before. I ❤ Mia. I probably will also indulge in a few romance novels. Not sure which ones yet.

If you’re participating in Bout of Books, what do you have planned for your first day? Also link your blogs!

#CovenBookChallenge 2020

I read a lot but sometimes often I get stuck in the same reading rut. Luckily a couple of my fellow book coven members worked up a special spell to counter this curse. 24 books in 12 months all in very specific categories, some from the pretty simple (books with a rainbow color in the title) to the complex (books published by a non profit press). I can’t claim any credit for this graphic! One of my awesome coven co-members did and it’s so awesome. I’m also doing Hodderscape’s 2019 challenge which you can read about here.

I have all but 3 books chosen although these are subject to change because things happen. I’m a bit hesitant to announce what they are at the moment. Also if you’re interested in following along, we’re using #CovenBookChallenge.

My plan is to read 2 books a month. I think I’m starting with the Pulitzer Prize and is a favorite of a friend or family member categories, respectively.

Lonesome Dove won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986. Why this tome of a Western? A few reasons. I have heard from people I generally trust in books, that it’s pretty good. A former coworker of mine and her husband even changed their last name when they got married because of their love for this book. The nearly 950 pages is a bit terrifying but I think it’s going to be a solid start for the new year.

My book coven loves Murderbot so very much. There isn’t a book poll that doesn’t happen without All Systems Red being one of the answers, even if it wasn’t up for consideration in the first place. I even named my phone Murderbot even though I haven’t read it because it sounded so good. Now with a full length novel coming later this year, I’m thinking it’s finally time. And since it’s a novella it will pair perfectly with the brick that is Lonesome Dove.

Are you doing any reading challenges this year? Tell me which ones in the comments.

BoB 26 Round Up Day 3

Good Morning! How has everyone been? I’m eagerly awaiting my spawn starting school on Monday. I couldn’t concentrate that well on Thursday so only got one book done.

The Temptation of Grace by Kristin Vayden

The Gentleman of Temptation trilogy follows three noblemen that, of course, own a gambling hell and the women who steal their hearts. This is the third offering and we get to see the trope where the dude who falls in love with his buddy’s ward, a lady who has traveled the world but is way out of her element with the fancy ways of the ton. I enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Vayden.

 

 

We have museum plans this weekend. There is an exhibit of Da Vinci’s inventions that I really think they’ll love even if it means I lose some readathon time. What are your weekend plans?

BoB 26 Round Up Day 2

Here we go again! This was a good day for reading. Only had one morning errand and the rest of the day was spent waiting for an Ikea order, which was of course late.    I’m actually surprised at what got accomplished considering I was also refereeing a hide and go seek tournament of my spawn. What was your favorite thing you read today?

How To Cross a Marquess by Jane Ashford

I’ve been enjoying this series following a group of men who are all touched by a death in their family and how a certain Lord brought them together to heal them…all with the power of love. This book in the series uses a combination of the neighbors to lovers trope and an enemies to lovers trope as Roger blames Fenella for his first wife’s death. It’s executed pretty well and I like seeing our matchmaking Macklin show up with the lovable urchin Tom to shake things up. Looking forward to the next in the series.

Pub date: August 27, 2019

 

Husband Material by Emily Belden

I read Hot Mess by Belden when it came out and really enjoyed the way she told a story.  This is less a romance and more a contemporary fiction, much like Hot Mess. The point isn’t the happily ever after, it’s about a woman coming to terms with who she is and who her deceased husband was as people. Also like our main character, Charlotte, I too am a Frenchie mom  so that added a lot of enjoyment. I found it to be an enjoyable read and recommend it.

Pub date: December 30, 2019

 

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

I’m so mad I’ve slept on this one. Clark’s writing is so atmospheric that I was immediately drawn in. The dialogue and the descriptions were all carefully constructed to bring you into the story and it shows. I totally understand why it was nominated for Best Novella in the Hugos. As much as I love the Tor.com novellas, I also am sad they’re novellas. I always want more. This is my first book by Clark, but it won’t be my last. I hope we’ll see more of Creeper and Ann-Marie in future books.

Published August 2018

 

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. What books did you finish?

 

 

BoB 26 Round Up Day 1

Yesterday was actually the 2nd day of Bout of Books, but my official 1st day. I decided the best way for me to tackle my stack of digital ARCs I’ve been accumulating was this readathon. I only managed to finish one book and DNF’d another. It was just not that interesting to me. 

One Night for Seduction – Erica Ridley

Let me say, I’m not a fan of the trope where one Main Character (MC) makes a wager concerning the unaware other (MC). It’s obnoxious. I was thrilled when our betted on Diana finds out about Cole’s bet to get her married pretty quickly. I also love the conversation of equality the characters discussed. Diana was a great heroine. I would have loved to get more of Cole’s rags to riches backstory, but all in all, fun read. 


Hopefully today will be more productive! How was your reading day yesterday? Even if you’re not participating in the readathon, tell me about it.

Bout of Books 26

Just as I started typing the title “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 suddenly started playing on my previously off Spotify so I think it’s a sign. I wasn’t going to officially participate in Bout of Books this time, but then I thought about it. This is the last week of summer for the kids, my stuff still isn’t here…what else can I do? Also I spent all day reading and didn’t count it so might as well get credit. I don’t have a set TBR, but I’ll share what I did read when I’m done (either daily or after the whole week). You can also find me on Instagram @karenafagan for live content.

Have you ever participated in Bout of Books? If so, what’s your strategy?



Bout of Books