I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted, but I felt constantly distracted throughout the month by social media and silly games on my phone. Also, it took a lot longer to finish A Desolation Called Peace and The Unbroken than I expected, because they were both amazing but it took a while to get through. Both five-star reads! And I listened to fewer audiobooks, because it took me a hot minute to finish Too Much Lip and Washington Black.
I also (re)discovered web comics (again), and got a Web Toons account. I have been drooling over the fantastic artwork and dramatic storyline of The Remarried Empress, and just started reading Your Throne and subscribed to a bunch more. Is this my repressed manga-loving past-teenage self coming through? Perhaps? Do I care? No.
On the writing side, I finished editing TDD2! It’s at my editor and I am nervous for what she’ll say but also relieved because it is done.
Now to drafting and outlining Book 3, which does not have a title. Book 2 is tentatively That/This Slow Awakening so Book 3 will probably be That/These Heavy X, to keep the theme of types of measurement, but I’m at a loss of what type of consciousness I’m going to pick for the next bit that will fit the plot.
I also wrote a short story (second one of the year): a historical fantasy about cryptids in 1930s Oregon. I’ve had a lot of rejections for my short stories already this year, but that’s life and I need to keep polishing, honing my craft and trying.
Anywho, reading stats: I read 12 books, for a total of nine books and three audiobooks. 4,444 pages and 32.5 hours of listening. I might finish a 13th today: Warfare in the Seventeenth Century by John Childs, which is looking to be a solid 3-star read.
I had a shit ton of five-star reads. So, many, fantastic, fucking books coming out in March! Get on these people.
First off, the sapphic books. Be still my queer heart. Arkady Martine had a lot resting on her shoulders after winning a buttload of awards for A Memory Called Empire, but she raised the stakes with A Desolation Called Peace and then some. Dead Space was the mining space station murder mystery thriller I never knew I wanted, complete with unchecked capitalism, a main character with physical disabilities and PTSD, rogue AIs and claustrophobic spaces! Literally no one is talking about this and I don’t know why! The Unbroken was the sapphic military-political fantasy I wanted, and while it wasn’t quite like the blurb, it was even better. I loved it, and all of the complex, messy characters fumbling in the dark, trying to do what is right and fucking it up.
Can’t Take That Away is a wholesome YA contemporary about a genderqueer teen fighting to find their voice after they get the role of Elphaba in the school production of Wicked and a homophobic/transphobic teacher gathers a group of parents to protest. There are some heavy trigger warnings, including assault, forced outing, harassment and more, but in the end the kids are all right and the secondary characters are fantastic. Plus there is a lot of information of Mariah Carey.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown was the final book in the Brown sister series, and it was just delightful. I loved Eve, and I enjoyed Jacob (I really liked the autism rep), and I adored all of the secondary characters. While I’m not at all team Brown parents, I loved the grandma and her girlfriend and, of course, Chloe and Dani. It’s hilarious, heartbreaking and heartwarming, and so, so fantastic.
Bruised was just so, so much. Daya was a phenomenal MC—a girl who had built up walls around herself to keep strong, who had been emotionally abused by her father (although she didn’t know it) to maintain those walls and keep everyone else out due to his own projections, and who self-harmed as a coping mechanism for her grief over her parents’ tragic death. And yet, despite the grief overlaying everything, there was joy. Queer joy, brown joy, and roller derby.
The Conductors is a Reconstruction-era fantasy, and wow, wow, wow I had never really read anything like it! I loved Hetty and her husband Benjy, and while there is a huge cast of characters, it really showcases the broad community the two conductors enabled. There is a murder, there is a mystery, and while the ending was a bit too pat (complete with a mustache-twirling villain monologue), I will definitely be tuning in to book two, because the magic is very interesting and it’s a very well done insight into a Black community in Reconstruction-era Philadelphia.
Too Much Lip took me forever to listen to, and I’ll be honest I didn’t capture everything. I had initially thought it was urban fantasy (rural fantasy? whatever) due to that cover, and then was like, well maybe it could be a contemporary romance (again, cover), but it is more a slice of life mystery about a Goorie woman returning home after years away. There are relationships (she grapples with a new understanding of her sexuality, which had been set for years) with family, friends, enemies and new lovers, and the long, lingering claws of racism, colonialism and history. I have not read many books set in Australia, and never a book written about and by an Indigenous Australian, so this was all new.
I really, really enjoyed the worlds and style of Danielle Evans’ The Office of Historical Corrections. Some of the short stories were phenomenal, and even the meh ones were still damn good. The only thing that didn’t elevate this to a five-star was the lack of closure at each one—and that’s a me thing because short stories tend to have open endings.
Washington Black was nothing like I had anticipated. It was on my state’s high school battle of the books list, and it took me a hot minute to check it out until now. The audiobook narration is fantastic, and this was a brilliantly done historical fiction (with some speculative elements? I don’t know enough about early aviation) of a young Black boy who grew up at as a slave in 1830s Barbados and the whyte man who became his master and mentor…and their complicated relationship over the years. Edugyan does not shy away from the horrors enslaved peoples experienced, nor does she ever let up on Britain’s own complicated and oft brushed aside relationship their own history of slavery, racism, colonialism and whyte supremacy. Reading other reviews, it is a take on the fantastical Victorian adventure stories of the 19th century, and I can definitely see that due to its writing style/tone, globe-trotting adventures and coming of age themes.
I was convinced, convinced that Blood Heir would be a five-star read. Magic Triumphs was one of the best series endings ever, and Julie in Magic Stars was utterly compelling and fantastic. However, that Julie was old Julie. Instead, it’s been eight years since Julie left (and the end of Magic Triumphs) and welp, this was pretty much a rewrite of Magic Bites, the first book in the Kate Daniels series. Julie has been literally transformed into a Kate Daniels mini-me, with all the charm erased, leaving only the snark and hubris. And Derek transformed into Curran 2.0, which was also a disappointment. Plus, the writing and editing was…kinda shit. A huge disappointment but still an enjoyable read if I just ignored Julie’s new ‘tude. I might be sticking around for book 2, mainly because I want to know what happens, but I don’t know.