Well August was certainly a month. It started off with me getting a lovely infection from what I had thought (and the initial doctor agree) was a spider, followed by a lovely fever/dumps of cold sweats when those meds didn’t work and a trip to the ER, followed by a false diagnosis of Lyme disease (despite five bites with no presence of ticks and my protesting to the contrary) and a prescription of doxycyline, then an allergic reaction to the doxy that gave me head to toe hives and a bit of homicidal rage, and then more meds. But that’s behind me, thankfully and I am fine.
In other news, I sold three short stories this month (in addition to a fourth I sold at the end of July).
I can’t believe it, and I’m so excited for them to venture out into the world. Real quick before I do my reading wrap-up:
“Team Wolf Anxiety” is about climate change, kinda-werewolves, humanitarian aid and a dystopian Douglas County, Oregon, will be released with The World’s Revolution, which is a super cool shared world anthology I’m so thrilled to be a part of. The other authors’ works sound amazing and I can’t wait to read them. Should be releasing sometime this fall.
“Terrible Tilly Hunts the Cadborosaurus” is about a photographer with the Federal Writer’s Project in 1938 as she explores Newport, Oregon, with her partner, and has a couple solo side quests: notably with a haunted lighthouse and the PNW’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. To be published in All World’s Wayfarer‘s Issue X in late September.
“Tell the Crows I’m Home” is about being lost and the stories we tell ourselves to keep the loneliness at bay. It’s set in Elkton, Oregon (where I grew up!), and is the best story I’ve ever written, and I’m so honored that Metaphorosis is going to publish it (no date yet).
“You Are About To Begin A Great Adventure” is a parody of the Oregon Trail computer game (heavily featuring my very dry sense of humor), and Intrinsick is going to publish it (date TBA).
And uh, yes, all of these short stories that I’ve sold recently all feature my home state of Oregon. I’ve been feeling really homesick recently, and that’s what I’ve been writing about. Those aren’t all of my Oregon-related short stories: earlier this year I sold “The Language of Flowers” to Cursed Dragon Ship’s anthology Misspelled: Magic Gone Awry (rival florists who hurl insults and hexes embedded in coded floral arrangements in 1945 Cottage Grove) which is releasing this November, and I’m shopping a short story about devil’s bargains, family histories and Oregon’s old Highway 99 (the old Pacific Highway).
Okay, to the books I read!
This was a fairly normal month, with 15 books read, 8 books, 1 graphic novels and 6 audiobooks, for 5,882 pages. However, I’m woefully behind on reviews, and fingers crossed I’ll get my act together in September and actually write a few (and post them on the blog).
My ratings seemed to have swung from either a glowing holy shit holy shit I LOVED it to a soggy, sour meh.
However, two of my most anticipated YA SFF releases of the year did not disappoint. Naomi Novik continued to deliver in her Scholomance trilogy, and if you enjoyed A Deadly Education (yes, this is one that has some very valid criticisms to it), you will probably enjoy The Last Graduate, particularly that ending. And I am pleased to report that the hype is realllllll in Iron Widow, which is a nonstop science fiction thrill ride with everything you could ever want in a book: mechas and their pilots, misogyny, loosely based Chinese historical figures, polyamorous romance, three bi leads, and a kick-ass heroine who is just wild enough to tear down her world and rebuild it in her image.
Artie and the Wolf Moon was a delightful middle grade/lower YA graphic novel about a Black girl discovering that surprise her mom is a werewolf! And there’s a fabulous werewolf community, Black history, and vampires. Yup, vampires! It was so damn good, and it’s set in Oregon and addresses Oregon’s history of racism.
Also, there is such a joy of photography and hobbies and an examination of what healthy relationships (particularly friendships) look like, and the most casual and fantastic sapphic relationship. It’s so good!
Dunno why I’m lumping these two together, except that they have been everywhere on bookish social media and I read them. I had been wanting to read Great Circle since the literary fiction bug bit me hard, and could not resist the really ambitious scope of this novel. Shipstead pulls it off, and there is some beautiful writing to boot.
And I picked up Crying in H Mart because not only was it everywhere, but Zauner went to the same middle school and high school as I did, and I was feeling really homesick and wanting to read more about Eugene, Oregon. Mild spoiler: this is mostly about her experience with her mom and food and becoming an adult, but it’s absolutely fantastic. How she writes about grief and food and being biracial is just…she has amazing talent and I am in awe.
Katherine St John has become an auto-read author since last month when I was captivated by the page-turning The Siren. The Lion’s Den is her debut, and while it wasn’t without flaw, I just love how she writes. There’s something about her prose that really draws me in and snares me, and maybe it’s because I’m irrationally obsessed with Deuxmoi, but fake Hollywood thrillers and the wild world of the obscenely rich and famous has me wanting to pick it up. Add in murder mystery, forced drugging and shady business deals, and I’m in!
Certain Dark Things is the third book I’ve read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and my second favorite (I don’t know that anything is going to be the thrill I felt while reading Mexican Gothic, which captured and subverted the genre so perfectly). While it’s loose on plot, the world-building makes up for it, and I was left wanting more Atl!
Winterlight is book seven in the Green Rider series, and I think the second to last? It was good and there was a lot that happened (plus something that fans have been waiting for fucking ever to kinda happen), but I don’t know that it was a favorite in the series. But I’ve stuck around twenty years—I’ll stick around until the end. Which—if the eighth book is the last—should be in another four years. I can wait.
I highly enjoyed The Secret Bridesmaid and A Lowcountry Bride, although it’s been several weeks since both and I just can’t really say what happened in them beyond one was about a professional bridesmaid in England working for a bitchy posh bride, and the other was about a bridal gown designer with sickle cell anemia trying to cram as much of her career into her life as possible before she dies, and realizing that there’s more to life than work and a legacy. Again, both were enjoyable and I highly recommend them, but the details aren’t coming through!
The Hello Girls and For All Time are both books that took me a hot minute to finish, not because they were bad (they are solid four star reads) but because they were jam-packed with intricate plotting in one case and research on both cases, and I needed breaks to get things to sink in.
For All Time is the time-traveling, reincarnation, twisty-turny love story I never knew I wanted, and it’s absolutely delightful, heavy-hitting and optimistic, all at once. It’s hard to describe my feelings since I just finished it, but I highly recommend it, and I am someone for whom insta-love rarely works (see my three-star reviews). The Hello Girls was a well-researched book about the telephone switchboard operators of WWI, who served as soldiers along the front and then fought for seventy years to receive recognition and military benefits for their service, and Cobbs does a really good job in contextualizing the events, society and attitudes of the time.
These two were both so painfully heterosexual that it physically hurt reading them. Enemies-to-lovers is a favorite trope, but hard to do well, and, honestly, The Layover did not do it well. I hated Ava, I despised Jack, and the insta-lust and angst was so thick you could smear it over toast.
Once Upon a Royal Summer was just as bad. Plus, both books had their heroines looking to settle with safe, boring jackasses of (semi) fiancés, breaking up with them in the beginningish of the book, and then immediately turning around and finding their one true love. Blech.
No one is more disappointed than me for not loving this. I absolutely adored Spin the Dawn and I love Lim’s writing (it’s so accessible and beautiful), but despite really liking Shiori, the retelling aspect, and how various tropes were portrayed and subverted, I felt this suffered from too much of an and then, and then, and then, quality and would have benefited from more editing and a tighter plot. Plus, I should not have listened to this as an audiobook, knowing full well that it is voiced by my second least favorite narrator.