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?

New Releases for the week of October 7th

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth? Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited about.

Horror Stories by Liz Phair

I have to admit on this one, I have only one Liz Phair album that I’ve listened to (I’m actually really bad at music in general), but it holds a lot of memories for me and also I do dig musician memoirs so I definitely can’t wait to jump into this one. I’m participating in Nonfiction November (basically just read a bunch of nonfic) and this is totally in the stack to enjoy.

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned I don’t do horror, but recently I talked to Nicole from Quirk Books and she was totally raving about this one so I’m going to give it a shot. Seems like a good month to scare the crap out of myself. Here’s the thing…all I have is a digital ARC so I can’t hide it in the freezer when I’m terrified. Send me suggestions!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I love Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so much (remember magic heists are my jam), so I knew Bardugo had it in her to write a book for adults. I didn’t get my hands on an ARC this time around, but have already preordered my copy. I can hardly wait. There’s a lot of good buzz going around so I doubt we’re going to be disappointed. (Speaking of 6ofC did you all see this?

That’s it for me. Let me know what you’re planning on picking up this week.

New Releases for the week of September 30th

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth? Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited about.

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss

I picked the third book of the Athena series up in August and haven’t quite gotten to it yet, but what I’ve read of the first two books I have thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe October is just going to be me finishing all the books I have s started and forgot to go back to.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Queer SFF YA for the win. This debut novel promises to be something we can curl up with and lose ourselves in. From the reviews I’ve read it’s got lots of positive queer and lady rep which gives me all the hope. I have my ARC somewhere…moving is the worst, y’all. As soon as I find my copy, I’ll report back if it was everything we hoped for.

Looks like the first week of October is a light one for me. Next week has a few more. In the next month or so we’ll start seeing our Fall releases so don’t lose hope!

Acquired ARCs for the week of September 16th

Every week I share which ARCs I’ve picked up from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

Netgalley

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass

I enjoyed the first of this series about an exiled courtesan who’s forced to babysit her troublemaker brother. It turned into a heist plot and man, do I love a magic heist(see my love of the movie Now You See Me. I’m excited to see what’s next for the group. It isn’t complicated world building so it’s great for those nights where I just want to lose myself in the adventure of it.

Pub date: February 4, 2020

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire

This is me telling you that Subterranean Press is putting out a collection of short stories by Seanan McGuire and you need to go pre-order it. Seanan has a gift for the short story where she packs a punch in just a short amount of words. Or she’ll send you hiding under your bed in terror. It’s obviously a gift. This also releases on Halloween so it’s an omen.

Pub date: October 31, 2019

Edelweiss

Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha

There’s no cover announced for this one yet. I love Kit Rocha’s romance series, and this is the first in their SFF series pubbed by Tor. I admit, I’m a little over halfway into it and…it feels more on the romance side of it still. I don’t know. Maybe it’s me. It’s still a fun book and I’m excited to see what it means to be a Mercenary Librarian.

Pub date: May 20, 2020

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

I have a confession. I’ll read all the books about the Borgias or the Tudors. They are the tabloid trash fires of their time, just with more poisonings. It’s always interesting to see what lore or suppositions the author is going to play with. Was there incest afoot in the Borgia household? Did Cesar kill his older brother?

Pub date: February 11, 2020

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Another cover not announced because this is another Tor publication and we’re a bit of the game. This is a new to me author although he’s been around and has won the LAMBDA for best Gay Romance. I am interested to see his foray into SFF. The premise sounds fascinating. Magical creature children on an island. I’m listening.

Pub date: March 17, 2020

New Releases of September 16th

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited for.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

I haven’t read a lot by Woodson, but what I have read, I’ve adored. I have a feeling this is going to be no different. She’s a master at her craft and a must read author. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to sink into this story because I have a feeling once I start, I’m not going to want to be disturbed.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

More queer SFF for 2019 and I couldn’t be happier. Add in the words quirky space opera, and this debut novel is hitting all my “what to read after A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” vibe. It’s more of an adventure story than Chamber’s story, but still a lot of fun that I think we’re all going to enjoy. With Gideon and January coming out last week, this might get pushed in the background so keep your eye out for it.

That’s it for me. It was a quiet week, but next week looks to be robust. Let me know what new releases you picked up in the comments.

New Releases Week of September 9th

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited for.

*this week never got published! Sorry!

Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir

It’s here! It’s here! I am utterly ruined for any other books this year. I was hooked by the concept of “lesbian necromancer nuns in space” and Muir executed it with skill and passion. I loved the combination of snark and violence, but yet, heart. It’s a perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction. I was never bored. Like a kid with a rare candy bar, I stingily rationed myself on it so I could make it last forever.

 

 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Pretty sure I’m not alone wondering what the hell Atwood has in store for us especially with the show having already gone past the end of The Handmaid’s Tale (I’m really behind, y’all. No spoilers). I’m a bit apprehensive on this. It’s been 30 years.

 

 

 

 

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alex E. Harrow

My friend and co-bookseller Stuart raved about this book and when he raves, I listen. Every word was chosen so carefully, with such purpose. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are compelling and complex, and really I never wanted it to end. This is Harrow’s first full novel and I can’t wait for more. While I wait I’m going to go read A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies…because witch librarians are catnip.

 

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty

I adore Caitlin Doughty. She takes all the fear about mortality and shapes it into knowledge and acceptance. Here she takes questions from kids about death and gives very adult answers. Wanna turn dad’s finger bone into a necklace? Not so fast. Will Gramma sit up in the coffin at the funeral? No, but there may be twitching. My husband wants a Viking funeral (no, really he does), what are the rules? Spoiler alert: there’s no such thing.

 

Have a great week, folks. Let me know if you plan to pick any of these up.

New Releases Week of September 2nd

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited for.

To be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Becky freaking Chambers. If you know me, you’ll know how much I adored The Wayfarers series. Chambers is a damn gift that keeps giving. I was thrilled to see her win for best series at the Dublin Hugos this year. She deserves it. This novella will have to keep us sated until she releases the next big thing whatever it is.

 

 

 

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Speaking of loved trilogies. Oh man. Do I love Mia, the cat who is not a cat and her whole band of assassins. This cover is bad ass. I hope everyone will dig it as much as I did. Did I order a signed first edition to match the ones for Nevernight and Godsgrave? You bet your ass I did.

 

 

 

 

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

The 13th installment of McGuire’s Toby Daye series is here and she is not here to play around. The Luidaeg is calling in her marker on a bargain she made with the Selkies and brings Toby along to pay her own debts. As usual nothing goes entirely to plan and shenanigans arise because of course they do, what else did you expect? No fan of the series is going to leave disappointed…except that again this is going to be in hardcover and is going to look weird with your paperbacks.

 

Whose Story is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit

It can’t be all Science Fiction and Fantasy all the time. Where SFF takes us on journeys across space and time, Solnit reminds us we have a lot to fix in our own little world. I have yet to find an essay collection by her that I didn’t like, even if I found the subject matter difficult to read. This is no different.