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.


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.

Acquired ARCs for the Week of September 8th

…I’d love to tell you that I’ve read nine million books this week so I’ve acquired ten million, but that’s not the case. I got caught up in this Sims 4 decades legacy challenge which is a blog post in itself (but maybe not this blog) so reading has gone slowly. Let’s see what’s been picked up, however.

Netgalley

The Seduction of of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn

I’m reading this right now. I’m a fan of Quinn’s Worthington series (not to be confused with Celeste Bradley’s Wicked Worthington series, which I do all the time) and this looks to be a reissue. I haven’t read it though so fun times. This seems to be one of those rarities where the male MC is in love with the heroine right from the start, except…he makes a cake of himself and has to fix his approach…eight years later.

Pub date: October 29, 2019

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kell

I…usually am not a fan of seasonal tales (although where are my Halloween ones??? I want autumn walks through the leaves), but Vanessa Kelly is one of those authors I’ll make exceptions for. Here we have a failed nun (probably a chapter title in my memoir, to be honest) and the Highlander sent to escort her home. This is bound to go well.

Pub date: October 29. 2019

Edelweiss

The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

Tor. Do you have spies in my house? I’m guessing yes. Consistently they put out books that speak to my soul (Hi Gideon the Ninth). Also let’s talk about that cover. There’s so much too unpack: skull, swan, eyes…Our story takes place in Gilded Age New York and wow, this looks amazing. I think I’m gonna have to switch up my TBR a bit and move this one up the list. I have high hopes for it.

Pub date: April 7, 2020

The Cerulean Queen by Sarah Kozloff

…Tor. This is the conclusion to A Queen in Hiding which is strange because the books between the first and the last aren’t available as ARCs yet. However,  I’m absolutely intrigued by the concept Kozloff and Tor are about. Each book in the series is being published one month after another, which is unheard of. It’s kind of a Netflix binge. I enjoyed the first in the series and I’m definitely interested to see where we go. *

Pub date: April 21, 2020

Forever and a Duke by Olivia Drake

Did I pick this up because the dude MC has my maiden name? No. Was I pretty thrilled that an author I enjoy used my maiden name? Yes. Here we have a duke who needs a bride and an American who does not, under any circumstance, need a duke. This lady has shit to do, and he ain’t one of them. I’m always here for when the menfolk have to win over the ladies and aren’t all “love is for losers.”

Pub date: December 21, 2019

Docile by K.M Szpara

Tor. We get it. You’re the cool kid at the table. Fine. I’ll sit with you. Stop begging. I’ve heard sooo many things about this book. All of them good. As soon as I saw it was up for download, I jumped on it with the quickness. See that Charlie Jane blurb? Also Sarah Gailey is into it. The premise sounds terrifying. Having to sell yourself to pay off parental debt? I’m gonna need a lot of fun, squishy books after this. I can feel it.

Pub date: March 3, 2020

That’s it for me this week. Did any of these make your TBR? Have your own acquired ARCs you want to share with the class? Let me know in the comments.

*Updated to correct series order error.

Acquired ARCs Week of August 26th

This week’s Acquired ARCs only came from Edelweiss. Let’s see what they are.

 

A Pale Light in the Dark by K.B. Wagers

I liked Wager’s Indranan War series (even though I haven’t finished it, I really plan to) so I definitely wanted to see what this new series was all about. Consider me interested. It seems to have found family vibes, which I’m always here for. Bad ass leading lady also check. Possibly a big competition? That’s another one in its favor.

Pub date: March 3, 2020

 

 

Grown Up Pose by Sonya Lalli

I have mixed feeling’s about Lalli’s previous book The Matchmaker’s List, but I’m willing to give her another shot here. I don’t really have a lot to say here to be honest. It’s a story about a woman starting over after separating from her husband who she married at a young age, and her community’s impact on her life so there’s a lot Lalli can explore here. I hope the execution is as good as the premise.

Pub date: March 24, 2020

 

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss

I had a great time with the first in this series and am working on the second now (it’s a chunkster). The idea that daughters of literature’s mad scientists would band together and have adventures? Oh man. I was there day one. I especially love that it’s told with each girl breaking into the narrative to give her side of the story or impart a snarky retort.

Pub date: October 19, 2019

 

The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Ever since I read An Unkindness of Ghosts, I’ve been aching for another story from Rivers. When I found out they had a novella inspired by The Deep by Clipping, well, let’s just say, it couldn’t get into my hands fast enough. I read this too fast and will probably read it again soon. There are so many details that you don’t expect to find in such a short story. Haunting, mesmerizing, and impactful are all words I would use to describe this story. It is nothing short of a work of art.

 Pub date: November 5, 2019

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Don’t lie. You squeed when you saw this. If you’re like me, you watched Shrill (hopefully you read the book as well) and were in love. Lindy’s take on feminism, pop culture, and body image is nothing short of masterful. I have been awaiting this essay collection with bated breath and am trying to hurry to write this post so I can sit in my comfy chair with a bottle of Magic Hat #9 and just devour every word of this collection.

Pub date: November 5, 2019

 

Will you pick up any of these? Did you acquire any books this week? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

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?

 

 

Quick Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Quick Review is a semi-regular feature of ARCs I’m loving. You should keep your eyes out for these! 


A Closed and Common OrbitA Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet so much. So I was a little wary (yet excited) for this installment. I say installment rather than sequel, because it felt more like a book that takes place in the world Chambers created than an actual continuation of the first book. I thought it was a great way to go. The theme of identity was well thought out and executed. I hope there will be more stories to follow.

Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Format: Digital ARC from Edelweiss

WWW Wednesdays 7/20

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I am in the beginning of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I’m stunned by the writing. It’s everything everyone’s been talking about. It’s so good I’m having a hard time stopping to read my nonfiction pick Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer. I’m also listening to The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen with my hubby, but now that we aren’t traveling it’s hard to synch up. I’m probably just going to have to swap to either ebook or print to finish it up, unless I decide to do some gaming.

What did you recently finish reading? I just read Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for the Ladies Read Spec Fic book club. I’m a little sad I put it off so long because it was so great. It was heartbreaking in the best way possible.  The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe was one I’ve been meaning to get to. Derek Attig from Book Riot has been singing its praises with good reason! I said it on my Litsy review and I’ll say it again, it took me until my thirties to appreciate characters who don’t have their shit together and Tess, the protagonist in Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, absolutely does not have her shit together. Finishing up my awesome few weeks of reading is Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. This was such a fun book. I haven’t had this much fun since A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. I’m looking forward to the next one and you should too!

What do you think you’ll read next? Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. You know I love me some feminist awesomeness so I’m looking forward to sitting down with this. Before the Fall by Noah Fawley was recommended by Miss Liberty through the Book of the Month Club so you know I had to pick it up.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/29

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I’m one of the people who received a settlement in the Apple/Amazon lawsuit and…I might have gone a little crazy. I’m going to be out of town this coming weekend so I’m probably going to be sticking pretty closely to my digital bookshelf this week. I’ll be reading The Bourbon Thief by  Tiffany Reisz. I adored her Original Sinners series and even though this won’t be erotica, I know her writing to be amazing so I’m looking forward to starting this tomorrow. I’m actually going to be visiting Emily Foster’s How Not to Fall for my erotica. Emily Foster is the pseudonym of Emily Nagoski who wrote Come As You Are (go get it, now!!).

What did you recently finish reading? The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley was so great! It was slow starting for me, but pretty quickly I was reminded of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay which I am a big fan of. I also finished The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway which was pretty interesting. I also finished The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve been a fan of Armstrong since her Women of the Otherworld series and she doesn’t disappoint here.

What do you think you’ll read next? Our book club meeting is being rescheduled and I still need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick. After that I’m not 100% where I’m going.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/22

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? I just started The Geek Feminist Revolution  by Kameron Hurley which so far is pretty interesting. Remember, I love books about the arts so it should be no surprise I’m also into The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Calloway.

What did you recently finish reading? Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger was great. I have been a fan of urban fantasy for years and this was a great new addition to the genre. I had a lot of fun reading it and can’t wait to see where the series goes. I also finished We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrl to Covergirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by  Andi Heisler, which was enlightening. I think it is a must read for any feminist. Roses and Rot by Kat Howard rounds out my reads for this week. I haven’t been so pleased by a book in a long time. Howard’s prose was lovely and the story was engaging. It’s been a long time since I’ve read so many great books in a row. Hopefully it continues.

What do you think you’ll read next? I’m looking forward to reading Sweet bitter  by Stephanie Danler. I really love books about cooking and restaurants. I also need to start Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club pick.

What does your book life look like this week?

WWW Wednesdays 6/1

WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

Every week I’m going to jump on here and talk about the week’s books. So let’s get to it shall we?

What are you currently reading? Surprisingly enough I didn’t get any reading done during the holiday weekend! I kind of started Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye which has been raved about by some of my closest book nerds. I also have been enjoying the Maiden series by Elizabeth Hoyt. Right now I’m on Thief of Shadows. It feels a bit different from some of the other romance novels I’ve read, mostly because they have been following more commoners around than the nobility and it’s a bit refreshing.

What did you recently finish reading? I finished Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Ornstein. I was, unfortunately, not very surprised by the information that Ornstein revealed, which is a sad state of what’s going on with our youth and their sex education. The book provides a great deal of food for thought to get the conversation started.

What do you think you’ll read next? I probably will pick up Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston for my book club. My next non fiction looks like The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower, which was pretty much inspired by me listening to Hamilton, even though Eliza never got to be First Lady.

 

What does your book life look like this week?