The first half of the month was pretty slumpy, as I DNFed quite a few books (as in: most of my March TBR, which was a bummer) and then took forever to read a couple more. But then I read a bunch of contemporary romances and I was back in action!
Writing-wise, I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped to be, but after pushing through January and February to finish That Slow Awakening (Book 2 of the Satura trilogy) and getting it to my editor, my brain was screaming that it needed a little break. Still, I managed to write (by complete accident…as in oops I fell over onto my keyboard and made words) two short stories, and edited four others. I also outlined a book that is not in the Satura trilogy, because my brain.
There’s a cyberpunk Jack and the Beanstalk retelling, two historical fantasy Oregon shorts (one with cryptids, one with witches hurling insults at each other through the language of flowers), a nonbinary emperum trying to take over the world (and find themself), two epistolary shorts (one about zoo mermaids, another about war widows tired of the war so they decided to end it), and two dystopian Oregon shorts (one with werewolves and wildfires, the other about being found). So um, takeaway is that I write a lot about rural Oregon?
Right now I have quite a few shorts subbed out, and I’m just waiting for the rejections to come in. Maybe one of them might sell though?
I did want to highlight some fantastic media I’ve consumed that aren’t books! I got my wife into podcasts (yesss), and we’ve been listening to You’re Wrong About. Maybe I’ll get her into The History Chicks, which is another favorite. We also finished watching The Good Place (finally), which kiiiinda helped start that reading and writing slump, because how can you be creative after finishing that masterpiece? We started watching The Mindy Project (yes, we are catching up) and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (so far…ehhh), along with wrapping up the absolutely stellar WandaVision.
I watched a shit ton of Read With Cindy Youtube videos, and binged on The Remarried Empress (ongoing) and Crumbs (finished), which are two phenomenal comics on WebToons. I also finally read Nnedi Okorafor’s fantastic Shuri comics, and I’m not generally a fan of superhero comics, but these were incredible.
Anywho, on to the books! I read fourteen books this month: eight books, five audiobooks and one graphic novel, for 4322 pages. I have not rated Patience & Esther yet, because I plan on reading it today.
Oh! And this month my blog hit 400 followers! Thank you! You all are the best!
It should surprise no one that I loved both oft these so much. I adore everything CL Polk writes, and Soulstar, while haphazardly edited in places, was an absolutely perfect ending to the Kingston Cycles. The exploration of an injust governmental system being righted and remade into something representing all the people, and the exploration of repatriation, integration and removal of prejudice (or at least, the removal of the systems allowing that prejudice to flourish and benefit the pockets of the powerful) was so well done.
Fugitive Telemetry threw me for a loop for a second, because at first I didn’t realize it took place before Network Effect. It’s a fairly standard murder mystery, complete with the rando smartass amateur detective (in the form of Murderbot) inserting itself into the official investigation and helping solve it. I loved it, it was fantastic, and the best part was I got to see a lot of the quiet moments with Murderbot and Dr Mensah, and also Murderbot interacting with the rest of the team.
The Stone Sky has been on my TBR ever since I finished The Obelisk Gate in May of 2018, and it was incredible and it also ruined me.
Caste was wow. There are few words to sum up, other than, it’s brilliant, and everyone needs to read it. It’s an insightful and searing looking into America’s (and also India and other countries, but mostly it uses those countries as a lens through which to view the US) caste system, and how foundationally our country is built upon prejudice and racism. It’s how we function.
Tokyo Ever After was the perfect mash-up of What a Girl Wants meets Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians, and I am trash for royal romance, and this was just perfection. I loved reading about the (not-real but still) Japanese royal family, and Izumi’s navigation of not feeling like she belonged in either small town California or Japan. It was the perfect amount of gossipy, angsty, romancy and lovely character development and setting. Definitely a must-read.
In a continuation of my Vorkosigan series reread, I binge-listened to Cetaganda over the course some something like two days. Ugh I love this series.
Defekt was a highly anticipated release, as it’s the companion novel to Finna. It’s all about the awful shit that happens in an alternate IKEA, and it’s super queer, anti-capitalist, and just…well, so good. This one has a beautiful anti-ableist message to it, and was a counterpoint to the ableist and capitalist messaging of those who were anti-lockdown/anti-mask during the beginning (hell, all stages) o the pandemic, which actually being about pandemics or viruses at all? Yes, I made no sense, so now you must read it.
The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), reminded me how little I konw of well, everything! I was doing fantastic in the introduction and chapter one, and was like, YES I UNDERSTAND THIS, and then by the end I was in a little ball in the corner crying because no, in fact, I understood nothing.
Remember how I said I read a shit-ton of contemporary romance? Well, here they are (minus The Subtweet).
She Drives Me Crazy has one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers, and it works it beautifully. I wanted a little more angst and thought, but it was quick, it was engaging, and I was in love for like, 95% of it. It definitely talks a lot about the grieving process of ending a relationship, and how that can be especially hard after a codependent and emotionally abusive relationship is over. Moving on is hard, and I liked that this did not pull its punches.
Happy Endings was a delight. Second-chance romance meets gentrification (on the pros and cons) and the struggles of chasing your dreams and learning to lean on other people for support. There are a lot of dildos and sex positivity, particularly for seniors! And I loved it.
Honey Girl had similar themes to both She Drives Me Crazy and Happy Endings, where Grace is struggling to find her footing after achieving a doctorate in astronomy and navigating some interesting relationships—with her rigid father, with her oops-we-got-drunk-and-married-in-Vegas wife, with her friends and her mother and her mentor. While I was not a huge fan of the romance aspect (I felt Yuki’s character was underdeveloped), I loved how the book dealt with mental health, therapy, the Strong Black Woman trope, being biracial, parent/child relationships, and the overwhelming burden of expectation and excellence.
The Subtweet was one that’s been on my radar for a hot minute, and I listened to the audiobook in one day (it’s a short book) and was blown away by it. I’m not one for books about artsy people or literary fiction, but this was fantastic, and took a deep look into the world of social media and musicians. What is art, what is imitation, what is success? And what does support and friendship mean, anyway, where you must scramble to find your place in a world that believes there can only be one of you that rises to success?
Welp, this was my big disappointment of 2021. Lol, just kidding. It was my big disappointment of March (well, second-biggest disappointment—I hadn’t hyped this one up near as much as I had Witches Steeped in Gold, which was my true biggest disappointment…in case you’re wondering, it was the writing style that killed me).
It felt like it was trying to be too much at once—a found family comedy, a military space opera adventure, a save the universe rag-tag team escapade, an epic star-crossed lovers romance, a political/genetic thriller, alien invasion—and it just did not have the connective tissue, character development or cohesive world-building to pull it off. Also, there were some rather um, insensitive approaches to sexual assault and prison rape jokes that I did not care for (mild spoiler: the prison rape joke is the very first scene). I might be too sensitive in my reading, but both scenes struck a nerve. This had all the elements of being fantastic, but in the end it just fell flat.
Some great posts from other blogs
Jade Beth J @ A Scholar Review got a little hairy and learned to love her body just as it is
Amy @ A Fangirl’s opinion talked about she keeps her blog organized (and has great tips for success!)
Jessica Rose @ Jessica Rose brought up her spring cleaning process for her closet
Bidisha @ Chai and Chapters highlighted 11 amazing South Asian YA releases
Way Too Fantasy’s fantastic review of The Court of Mortals (seriously folks, check this series out!!)
There’s Always Room for One More has the All Systems Read, a casual sci-fi readathon from April 2-5
Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog wrote about these 21 fantastic SFF releases by BIPOC
Readingbythemoonlight discusses the Pressure of Liking Popular Books
Over the past year, hate crimes against the AAPI community, particularly among seniors, has risen as a result of the pandemic (although the roots trace far back—see Caste). The massacre this month in Atlanta was horrific, and the anti-Asian sentiment and Asian erasure must end. If you are able, here are some ways to help:
Donate (if you’re able):
- Stop AAPI Hate
- Asian American Advancing Justice
- Hate is a Virus
- Enough is Enough
- AAPI Women Lead
- Asian Mental Health Collective
Enroll in Bystander Intervention Training
Follow AAPI organizations and activists on social media
Check in on your friends and family—and squash anti-Asian talk amongst your friends and family