I was supposed to write like, two reviews for this week, but we are in the midst of packing and I have been submitting short stories to magazines at a furious pace and also struggling to read much of anything (slumpity slump slump sluuuuump!), so writing much of anything has been not happening.
To top it all off, I feel a seismic shift in my reading coming.
Okay, perhaps not seismic, but I definitely go through swings in what I am feeling the need for, genre-wise.
I’ve always been a science fiction and fantasy fan, and that remains my base enjoyment, although I used to read primarily YA SFF. The past couple years, however, I’ve been pulling away from YA—first with SFF, gravitating towards contemporary, and lately away from YA completely. I want more complex themes, more deftly handled worldbuilding, and characterizations that don’t come from a strange sense of self-sacrificing selflessness and/or a love interest.
That was the first shift. I’ve always read moderately broadly genre-wise, but last year I read a lot of contemporary romance, and I loved it all. In college I read a lot of what was then called chick lit, and I still love it, and I love contemporary romance.
This year, I have dipped my toe into literary fiction. I used to abhor literary fiction with a passion, but now, I’ve been kind of craving it? It started with Leave the World Behind, and the itch grew with The Department of Historical Correction and Too Much Lip, and then really sparked when I read The Subtweet and Transcendent Kingdom. And now I’m reading The Vanishing Half and loving it, and oh no I like literary fiction now??
RIP my TBR.
So here are six holds from Overdrive, and six from hoopla, and you try to figure out what I like reading because I give up at this point. Blurbs are from Goodreads.
Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S Bryce
Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose. A dual-timeline historical-contemporary that caught me as soon as I saw that gorgeous cover! I cannot wait to read it.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ pain. Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith…and a startling vision of human destiny. This has been on my TBR for forever. I have checked out the physical copy more times than I can count (and I bought the ebook too), but I never get around to it—so audiobook it is, once I prepare to have my heart ripped out and stomped into a thousand pieces.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. After falling in love with Beach Read last year, I could not wait to read Henry’s next book!
The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr
Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony. I have seen this book everywhere, and even though it’s going to kill me, I want to read it so badly.
The Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There–after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes–Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles. This is another dual-timeline historical-contemporary and despite its 600+ page length you have no idea how excited I am for this book!
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it? Okay, this sounds fantastic, and if I like this one, then I’ll definitely pick up How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe.
Others I’m excited to read but too lazy to pull picks for:
- Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee
- Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
- Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto
- The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris
- Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
- Arsenic and Adobo by Mia Manansala
Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles
Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing…until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else. Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. I had little desire to read this, but then I kept seeing all these great reviews and dammit doesn’t that blurb speak to me and remind me a little of CL Polk’s fantastic Witchmark, and maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for the magic that was that book.
Passing by Nella Larsen
Irene Redfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem’s elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch. Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming—tells Irene how, after her father’s death, she left behind the black neighborhood of her adolescence and began passing for white, hiding her true identity from everyone, including her racist husband. Oh, have you noticed the high amount of books set or published during the 1920s? BLAME NGHI VO. After her brilliant retelling of The Great Gatsby, I have felt this strange need to read books set in my least favorite decade.
Edges by Linda Nagata
No one knows for sure what caused the Hallowed Vasties to fail, but a hardened adventurer named Urban intends to find out. He has the resources to do it. He commands a captive alien starship fully capable of facing the dangers that lie beyond Deception Well. With a ship’s company of explorers and scientists, Urban is embarking on a voyage of re-discovery. Their goal: to unravel the mystery of the Hallowed Vasties and to discover what monstrous life might have grown up among the ruins. A couple months ago, someone (I can’t remember who) recommended Linda Nagata to me, and ever since I’ve seen her stuff everywhere. So either the algorithm has figured me out or it’s a sign, but I need to listen to this already.
Four Lost Cities by Annalee Newitz
In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today. This had been on my low-pri TBR, but then I watched an author talk between Arkady Martine and Annalee Newitz on the concept of city (I felt sooooo intellectual watching this, you have no idea—lol not, I felt like a peon before giants), and this bumped up high onto my list of listen to this now.
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance. But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. This has been on my TBR since last year, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I needs to listen to it, and unfortunately my hoopla listens tend to get bumped down my queue because Overdrive is now now now with their holds and hoopla is always available. Nevertheless, *whispers* I’ll get to you.
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way. I have seen this pop up and about, and I just—I have no idea what it is, what it’s about, except that it’s a bunch of short stories about an 88-year-old woman who just might be a serial killer or something, in addition to dealing with the frustrations of the world.
More on my hoopla TBR:
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- Three Keys by Kelly Yang
- The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
- Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
- Cotillion by Georgette Heyer