Whoops I ghosted again.
I intended to post.
Had a whole plan lined out.
And then I just…didn’t write it.
So yeah, that happened. No ragrets.
Anywho, May was a good month overall for me, mostly because I dropped a couple of things I was doing (writing fiction, writing on the blog, posting on Instagram for the most part) and read a ridiculous amount of books and also did some things around home.
This month my book club launched our semi-annual team game, and to prep I decided that it was okay if other things fell to the wayside. Did I have the time to actually do all the things? My reading stats (and super impressive Sudoku times) indicates that yes, I did in fact have the time to write both fiction and blog, but my happiness said it was okay to not do all the things.
Which means that I will probably not post a whole lot in June, even though it’s Pride and I want to do all the Pride posts (in the meantime, check out my Sapphics in Space post–which I need to update–and my Queer Indie Recs for Pride), but I also want to cherish my headspace on this last month of the team games because they take a lot out of me.
I read 26 books this month (might be 27 by the end of the day): 11 books and 15 audiobooks, for a total of 9,123 pages (might be slightly more).
Audiobooks. The real MVP of 2022.
The five star books I read all happened to reach my mood at the right time! And both inspired by myth and/or fairy tales!
The Stardust Thief was the perfect (prepare to read that word a lot) and delightful mix of fun and light combined with adventure story and some incredibly TENSE moments where I worried all the way through. Definitely a must read for fans of high fantasy (although tone wise more Foundryside than City of Brass, which I’m sure it will be compared to due to setting).
Kaikeyi was everything I wanted Circe to be and THEN SOME. I loved it. I loved the ace and aro rep. I loved the mythological retelling. I loved Kaikeyi herself. I loved the worldbuilding and the plotlines and the sisterhood and the polyamorous relationship (well, kinda polyamorous??). I loved the politics and the battles between gods and mortals. I loved it all.
I also read two memoirs (memoirs, wuuuut) from two of my absolute favorite celebrities in the world: Sutton Foster and Danica Roem. Both amazing in their fields, both blessed with fantastic hair (I need their hair care routines). I highly recommend listening to the audiobooks. Loved, loved, loved everything about these two books, even though I was scared to read them because both women are so fantastic.
The Passing Playbook was adorable and perfect and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t read it sooner. I don’t have a lot more to say than that. Check it out.
An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States was a fascinating and nuanced look at intersectional Afro-Indigenous history within the United States, which clearly shows that history is not a monolith. It’s short and covers a very wide topic, and does a pretty good job as a starter book. I’ve read a couple of the ReVisioning American History series, and all have been well done. I need to read more!
I read a lot of four-star reads this month, so I’ll try to be brief (narrator: she was not, in fact, brief).
Remnant Population has been on my tbr for quite some time. Moon was one of my absolute favorite authors in high school (and a huge inspiration in my own writing). I devoured the Paksenarrion trilogy, inhaled everything Serrano and Vatta (although I loved Serrano Legacy more than the original trilogy), and yet somehow did not read this one. Perhaps because it was quieter and not military, and because it was about an old woman. I probably would not have appreciated it as a teenager, or even in my twenties. But I do now, in my thirties. It’s a solid read, but not five star, if that makes sense?
Light Years from Home was good, and it’s weird that I read only two science fiction books this month and while both featured space travel there was no actual traveling through space. Okay, at the end of Light Years there is but that was not the feature. This one was more a character study of a broken family bumping into each other after years apart and seeing if it’s worthwhile to attempt to fit the pieces back together. The space travel was just the set dressing, and I thought it worked quite well.
A Mirror Mended was the second in the Fractured Fables duology (series??), and I really enjoyed it! I’m hit or miss with Harrow’s writing (love it, but she runs toward purple prose in her longer works), and the humor was still here! Also, I really loved the evil queen. More evil! More queen! More sapphic villains!
The Dawnhounds was like if Harrow the Ninth body slammed into Black Sun and then the combined mass (IYKYK) french kissed The Affair of the Mysterious Letter just for shits and giggles. It’s delightfully weird (and queer and indigenous), but I recommend saving it for a time when you’ve got brainspace.
Lumping these two together because they are queer historical fiction, one being Edwardian fantasy, the other Regency romance. I really loved A Marvellous Light, although I kinda wished it had more resolution at the end. I liked the relationships and the worldbuilding, and I am definitely going to read book 2! A Lady for a Duke was a heartfelt romance between childhood friends turned lovers, with a trans woman lead! It was so, so good, although as I feel with the few Hall books I’ve read, it could have benefited from some pruning. Bonus points for that delicious cover!
Both of these bad babes are sequels to five-star reads. And like so many of the sequels I’ve read this year, these two were good but not as good as book 1. Still well worth it, however! The Merciless Ones picks up ten months after book 1, and goes in a really strong redirection, with lots of queer rep added to the book in a way that felt really organic, in addition to strong critiques on gender identity, gender roles, and what bringing down the patriarchy actually looks like. This Wicked Fate, on the other hand, picks up immediately after the shocking events of book 1, and goes on a wild adventure ride to fix the oh-shit moments of the first book (with lots of planning in the beginning that kinda dragged the plot down), and a really good look at what happens after traumatic events.
What month is complete without reading lots and lots of contemporary romance?
I adored Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell—it was the perfect flirty and quick read about a woman who gets dumped in the worst way, realizes she is stuck in a rut and then decides to do something about her life. It very nicely tackles fatphobia, diet culture, the “revenge body,” and healthy relationships and I really liked that.
The Love Con (what a punny name) was a book that was more 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because it was still so damn cute. It’s about cosplaying while Black and fat and female, and being a cosplayer while Black and fat and female on a high-stakes reality tv show—in addition to stepping out on your own path to success instead of the path your parents envisioned for you (and on top of that, a romance!).
To be honest, I can’t remember a whole lot about The Wedding Crasher other than I really liked it. I loved the banter, the fake dating within fake dating, and was actually not annoyed by the mini breakup part (it actually felt natural instead of incredibly forced), and I even felt that the ending was actually HEA because of how these two silly kids grew over the course of the book.
I do love sapphic romance. And I’m so happy that 2022 seems to be the year of Sapphic Contemporary Romance! Home Field Advantage featured a female quarterback taking over a small town football team after their previous (shitty but popular) quarterback died in a drunk driving accident. It was really well done, and I really liked Amber and Jack, although I wanted more on Amber’s cheerleading practices because that part seemed really cool! Bonus points for this being set in the Florida panhandle.
She Gets the Girl is the perfect YA-NA crossover, about two girls who grew up mostly friendless, and who each want to date their dream girl. Well, Alex is technically already dating her dream girl, but her dream girl wants her to get serious with her shit. And Molly has mooned over her dream girl all through high school and even followed her to college (granted, the college was close to home). Anywho, aged me wished I could have had this book as a college student, because this was the book I needed growing up.
Last up in the four-stars is With Teeth, a sapphic book were everyone is awful and yet still human, and the main character hits just a liiiiiittle bit too close to home. The issue was Sammie and the way she could not move past or through anything, but just sat and sat and hated everything around her. The problem was also Monica, who was a piece of shit. Sampson was a weird ass child, true, but for much of the book we only see him as the warped creature Sammie projected all her own delusions onto instead of the child growing up in a home with two awful parents. As a character study, it was very well done.
I absolutely adored Payback’s a Witch, and while I liked the creepiness factor of From Bad to Cursed, I was less than enthralled by the romance aspect or the plotline of this one. I also expected that it would be queer, and it was not (although love interest Rowan is Black and the author did not dodge from what it means to be Black and a magic user in America). Neon Gods was my attempt to try my hand once more at erotic romance, and while it wasn’t bad it wasn’t good, either? It felt like a critique on 50 Shades meets a less well done Lore Olympus featuring 10 cent Rhysand, and it was okay but not good.
Real Easy was a book I read because it intrigued me and fit a reading prompt. I’d never read a book about strippers before, and the fact that the author had been one lent a ton of authenticity and heart to this story. It was a thriller, and I enjoyed it but didn’t love it. American Royalty was one of those books that was good but not four star. It started strong but somewhere in the middle just tumbled off the road for me, particularly because I felt like it tried to do too much and didn’t really seal in the HEA feel for me. It felt more like a HFN.
And the two two-star reads. Blood Scion was okay plot-wise, and I really, really appreciated how the author approached the topic of child soldiers and what that did to a kid, but the worldbuilding was bland and I just couldn’t get past the absolute logistical and administrative nightmare of this army. Yes, I’m over-analyzing, but it went way into the weeds itself on how things worked and resource and talent pool wise it just didn’t make a whole of sense in a sustainability way? I dunno.
Undercover Princess was a book that had sat on my Goodreads TBR and my physical shelf for a hot minute. I picked it because I love me some royalty shit (although not the real royals, blah), and this also had what felt like the perfect blend of princess swap and boarding school drama. Instead, it was a heated mess that ended in the middle of the story.