book chat, tbrs

INTERACTIVE 2018 Reading Goals: Some Polls For You!

Hey everyone! I assume I’m not alone in wanting to plan for 2018. Especially in terms of reading plans. And you know what we’re going to need, more than anything else? Some goals.

And maybe more importantly to yousome feedback on those goals. A few of these have questions attached to them about what books I should read first and second! I’m going to post a twitter thread of polls for goals #1, #2, #4, and #6.

Maybe we should call it #pollsforgoals.

(I’M SO SORRY.)

so please, guys, feel free to vote on my Twitter!

1. Read a series per month

The last half of 2017 was the year of desperately wanting to binge series and never actually bingeing them. I am a person who tends to read full series all at once. No breaks. But this year, I was trying not to buy too many books, causing full series to languish on my shelf. So my new goal is to binge a series every month rather than simply ignoring my series.

A few of the series on my list to start right now are: Truthwitch, The Fifth Season, Tiny Pretty Things, and This Savage Song. These are all series I OWN in physical form, although sometimes only the first book, so please no write-ins for this question!

2. Finish all arcs I’m DEFINITELY excited about 2 months before release

This was something I sucked at last year. This was something I sucked at last year; I kept putting off arcs I genuinely wanted to read because I felt overwhelmed. Solution? Have less arcs.

And guess what? This one comes with a poll! I technically have 12 January and February arcs, but I have to decide what to read first. So, a poll: should I start with The Apocalypse of Ella Mendoza, The Hazel Wood, Nice Try Jane Sinner, OR The Last To Let Go?

3. Request less digital arcs

Last year and at the beginning of this year, I was receiving 98% of the arcs I got from a local bookstore. This year, I started doing Edelweiss and Netgalley far more. And honestly, I don’t know if I’m happy about it. Many of the books I’ve picked up have been so mediocre I haven’t wanted to finish, and from now on, I’m only going to request books that I am genuinely super interested in reading. And try to read them ASAP, even if I have other outstanding titles on netgalley: new ones are the priority.

4. Read as many arcs as possible right after I get them

Related to my last goal! This was something I sucked at last year; I kept putting off arcs I genuinely wanted to read because I wanted to save until the release dates. One solution? Get less arcs at a time. And also avoid scheduling book reading; I kept planning to read books last year that I’d then fail to get to because it felt like a responsibility. So we’re going to avoid that as much as possible.

This one ALSO comes with a poll. On top of my twelve Jan-Feb arcs, I have THIRTEEN March-July arcs. Two are from March, three from April, six from May, and one each from June and July. So, a POLL: Which arc should I cheat and read ahead of time, out of Girl Made of Stars, Nothing Happened, and The Astonishing Color of After?

5. Read more owned books than I received new books

I have spent a year bragging to myself about how I always read more than I buy / receive. Which is very very true. Exceptionally true. But also bullshit. Why? Because I read so many library books.

Let me explain. For all of last year, my school library was mostly closed. In years past, I have gotten 70-80% of my books from the school library. So I had a reason, this year, to actually buy books, especially as I tried to read more obscure books that my public library didn’t have either.

I feel like you can guess where this is going. My library is back. And I simply don’t have as much a need to buy books anymore, you know? Especially many popular 2012 series that I’ve been planning to catch up on.

I mean, if anyone’s seen my hauls from the last three months, I have literally hauled 90% arcs month after month. And usually my only physical books are books I’ve already read or books I’ve received as gifts. So this is not a hard goal, just one to keep in mind.

6. Continue with my 260 books goal… or downsize?

NOW HERE COMES THE CONTROVERSY. Should I stick to trying to read five books a week, or should I go down to four? Junior year has been super, super stressful, and I frankly read longer books nowadays than I did in years past. Should I simply move down to 250? Who knows. But let me know in the poll!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time! Hope you all have productive finals weeks. 

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recommendations

#SapphicAThon: my favorite queer lady books!!

It is a good day. It is a very, very good day. Why?

Because I… AM… HOSTING… A… READATHON!! And thankfully, it’s about something I am super super passionate about: women loving women. Sapphic girls. The Gays. It’s a good day!!

#SapphicAThon will be taking place from Dec 14 to Dec 28. Check us out on twitter HERE. That twitter account has all the information and challenges, plus chats throughout that week, so make sure to follow us. I’m cohosting this readathon with some of my best friends on here: Jamieson @JamiShelves, Tasha @CatsAndPaperbacks, Amelie @AKinderGalaxy, and Miriam @ToitNups.

We’re focusing on reading books that specifically have a major romance between two girls. Side characters do not count. Queer girl main characters but m/f romance does not count. Queer girl main characters but no romance does not count. Those are all important, but this readathon wants to focus specifically on romance between girls.

So, let’s get into the sapphic recs, shall we? I have a lot to recommend here, all books I’ve both read and enjoyed. Some are repeats if they fit across multiple genres. As always, reviews are linked for every single one so you can get more information. 🎄 will be used to indicate my absolute favorite books, but I’d highly recommend all of these. And feel free to ask questions on the post about any recommendations.

Speculative SFF

Mystery / Suspense

High Fantasy

Urban Fantasy / SFF

Graphic Novels

SFF Short Fiction and Anthologies Containing Queer Ladies

Contemporary

Historical Fiction

That’s it, guys! Feel free to keep up on more via my F/F Romance Recs shelf.

tbrs

a 🎄December🎄 TBR — challenging myself!

hey guys! it’s time for a December TBR. Let’s see how I did on my November TBR, shall we?

I planned to read twelve books. Of those twelve, I read a full six. So… 1/2. Let’s just admit I suck at these.

Off my November TBR, I read Tyler Johnson Was Here, Finding Yvonne, Dread Nation, Into the Drowning Deep, Nevernight, AND The Diviners. The last three of these were 500+ page books and I’m exceptionally happy I got to all these long books. Plus a few more not on my TBR— feel free to check out my November Wrap-Up. I did not get to Love and Other Carnivorous Plants [I’m putting this off till 2018], Rosemarked, The City Of Brass, Bonfire, The Island Will Sink, and Lair of Dreams. But I’m going to ignore that tbr, even the failed bits, and focus on my real goal: the 2017 releases.

This month, I’m hoping to read a grand total of 35 books to complete my reading challenge. And I’m hoping that as many as possible will be 2017 releases I own. So I’ll be listing all the 2017 releases I own / have access to at the library and might read this month.

I’ve been using Romie @RomieWeDeserveLove‘s great idea for emoji indicators in the past – a 🏳️‍🌈 for lgbtq rep, ☀️ for major characters of color, and 🌸 for mental illness, disability, abuse, or trauma rep. Keep in mind this is only what I know! For this month, I’ll also be using 🎄 to indicate kindle arcs, 🍁 to indicate physical copies including arcs, and 🌺 to indicate library books.

— 2017 Releases I Could, Hypothetically, Get To —

  1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | Oct 24 🌺☀️🌸 finished and enjoyed this.
  2. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman | March 28 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 finished and LOVED this.
  3. All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry | Oct 10 🍁 just finished and enjoyed this. One of the prettiest covers of the year.
  4. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera | Sep 5 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️ what the title says. if one of them dies and the other lives, I will be the one dying.
  5. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburn | Nov 11 🍁☀️ Speculative historical fiction about the rose plague.
  6. At the Edge of the Universe by Sean David Hutchinson | Feb 7 🍁🏳️‍🌈 speculative sci-fi and gays.
  7. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed | Oct 10 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 I know I hate contemporary but feminist contemporary? an exception
  8. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman | Sep 17 🍁☀️🌸 I know I hate contemporary but contemporary exploring abuse? another exception
  9. How To Make A Wish by Ashley Herring Blake | May 2 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 guys, I KNOW I hate contemporary but I have this Vibe about this book I just feel like I’m going to adore it. every time I look at this book on my shelf I feel happy.
  10. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence | Apr 4 🍁🏳️‍🌈  this sounds so badass!!
  11. The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley | Feb 7 🍁🏳️‍🌈  this sounds gay and terrifying, aka my favorite genre
  12. The Sister’s Chase by Sarah Healy | Jun 27 🍁 I don’t know crap about this but I recently realized how much I love fast-paced suspense and I also basically only own arcs nowadays
  13. Invictus by Ryan Graudin | Sep 26 🍁 fast-paced. blame #arcsfortrade.
  14. The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz | Oct 17 🍁 an aestheticy dance thriller
  15. Hunger by Roxane Gay | Oct 3 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 a memoir my mother owns that I’d like to get to! I really love Roxane Gay and definitely need to keep up on her releases.
  16. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright | Oct 3 🍁🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 a last priority because I just… idk. this was on my most anticipated and i won a preorder giveaway but after seeing more about it… I do not get good vibes from the review page.
  17. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham | Feb 21 🍁☀️ historical fiction about the Tulsa race riots. I was on a historical fiction kick earlier this year, found a damaged copy, and somehow never read this one? considering donating but the subject really interests me.
  18. A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho | Feb 28 🍁🏳️‍🌈 listen, all I care about are queer girl thrillers.
  19. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater | Oct 10 🍁 an author I love but god knows if I’ll like this.
  20. He Said / She Said by Erin Kelly | Jun 6 🎄 a thriller I know nothing about but got from netgalley and therefore should definitely read.
  21. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff | Sep 5 🎄🏳️‍🌈 The sequel to one of my fav books of the year, complete with an f/f romance.
  22. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Sep 26 🎄 Enemies-to-lovers and morally ambiguous fairies.
  23. Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield | Oct 1 🎄🌸 a read about abuse that I’ve had highly recommended.
  24. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao | Oct 10 🎄☀️🌸 one of my most anticipated of the year! let’s go, morally ambiguous fantasy.
  25. Like Water by Rebecca Podos  | Oct 17 🎄🏳️‍🌈☀️ a contemporary about a bi performer mermaid and a genderfluid tourist? maybe?
  26. A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo  | Oct 17 🎄🏳️‍🌈☀️ GAY PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER. THANKS FOR MY LIFE MALINDA
  27. Feral Youth by Various | Sep 5 🎄🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 an anthology from a ton of authors I adore.
  28. When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn | Aug 1 🎄☀️ suspense novel by an author I love.
  29. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten | Oct 31 🎄 another suspense novel by an author I love. can you tell I figured out I like suspense this year?
  30. Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl | Nov 14 🎄🌸 this already released but I just got an arc based on Cait @PaperFury’s recommendation.
  31. Gray Wolf Island by Tracy Neithercott | Oct 10 🎄 I know nothing about this, but it was one of the year’s netgalley releases.
  32. Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana | Jul 18 🎄☀️ I’ve seen mixed things about this but I loved the author’s debut so much.
  33. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraboty | Nov 14 🎄☀️ Muslim #ownvoices fantasy highly recommended by my favorite Melanie @MelToTheAny.
  34. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner | Mar 7 🌺  sadness and character development.
  35. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng | Sep 12 🌺☀️ racial conflicts and literary merit.
  36. We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates | Oct 3 🌺☀️ favorite authors and short-story collections.

Given these are all 2017 releases I’m particularly excited to read, I’m hoping I get to at least 30 in total of these books. Will it happen? Maybe. Am I excited to try? Yes.

And to make sure I do — a challenge: I have to donate however many less than 30 2017 releases I read to make up the deficit. Challenge me. Bug me on twitter. Enjoy.

wrap-ups

November Wrap-Up

Hey guys! Time for a rundown of this month’s books. It wasn’t that great a month until near the end, when I had a really great Thanksgiving weekend and a great next week, giving me time to catch up on the reading I’d failed to do earlier.

This month I read 16 books, far lower than usual, but rated them all quite high. I had three 3-star books, seven 4-star books, two 4.5-star books, and four 5-star books. Soon I’m going to write a post talking about how much more consistent I’ve been with my enjoyment of books since I started reviewing, so watch out for that one!

I’m also still using Romie @RomieWeDeserveLove‘s great idea for rep indicators – the 🏳️‍🌈 means lgbtq rep, ☀️ means major characters of color, and 🌸 means mental illness, disability, abuse, or trauma rep. I know a lot of people are looking for recs based on those categories. And since a few of my favorite bloggers have started using this system, I’d like to reiterate that anyone is free to use this.

// you tried and… sort of succeeded — ★★★

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert | ★★★☀️ | contemporary

  • Can I just reiterate that slice-of-life stories are aggressively not my thing? Finding Yvonne is a slice-of-life story about a girl who gets pregnant, and while some elements – like the feminism – stood out to me, some elements – like the aggressive cheating being completely excused – did not. Altogether very mixed.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty | ★★★🌸 | contemporary suspense

  • Honestly? Just read Big Little Lies instead. While the feminist themes are just as great, the tension and character work of that one is just missing here. There’s too little drama in the first half, and the final conflict reveals seems just a little too pat for how it’s marketed. And while I think Moriarity definitely has a talent for subtle character building and a great sense of human nature, even the best authors can have trouble balancing so many points of view, especially in a single book. Something I do want to praise is the thematic work here. This book is so damn feminist.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Marie Machado | ★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 | speculative short fiction

  • Strange, visceral, but altogether, just too confusing for me. I would recommend this to those who loved the metaphorical side of Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. Because these stories… well, you’re not going to enjoy them unless you get them. But to be quite honest, some of my disappointment was just plain too-high expectations. The Husband Stitch was the only Machado I’d read before, and I adored it, so naturally I expected something even better. But that was my fave of the stories.

// you tried and you did succeed! — ★★★★

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh | ★★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 | fantasy

  • Introductory series books continue to disappoint me. Because oh boy, I loved a lot of concepts and ideas here. Odessa’s story of grief and addiction, a romance I enjoyed, fantastic worldbuilding around change… and yet, I was underwhelmed. I really feel like this book was a too-much-buildup beginning to what I’m sure will be a sublime series.

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages| ★★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️ | speculative histfic novella

  • 1940s San Francisco and queer women. I really enjoyed this short novella; it’s written quite well and with developed enough characters to carry the aestheticy story. And I loved getting an insight into this period of history!

A Monstrous Love by Magen Cubed | ★★★★🏳️‍🌈 | speculative novella

  • Creepy sapphic reads are my new aesthetic. This is the shortest short-story collection I’ve ever read, and while I felt each of the two stories could’ve had the chance to flesh out more ideas, I liked the concepts and writing of both short stories.

The Little Red Wolf by Amelie Flachais by Magen Cubed | ★★★★ | art

  • Creepy sapphic reads are my new aesthetic. This is the shortest short-story collection I’ve ever read, and while I felt each of the two stories could’ve had the chance to flesh out more ideas, I liked the concepts and writing of both short stories.

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles| ★★★★☀️ | contemporary

  • Finished this in a day! It’s more slice-of-life-ish and lacking in a concrete arc, which isn’t my favorite, but this book was lovely. The theme work was especially amazing.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | ★★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️ | uf histfic

  • I thought once books surpassed 500 pages, they just couldn’t be that exhilarating anymore. I have been proven very, very wrong. Though it’s marketed as historical paranormal, I’d classify The Diviners more as a nonstop, action-packed suspense novel. One thing’s for sure: this book is nothing like any I’ve read before. Go read it. You’ll love it.

A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes | ★★★★ ☀️ | nonfic

  • Well, considering I hate nonfiction, that was unexpected. A Colony in a Nation is some of the best nonfiction I’ve read this year. While it’s quite short, this book’s exploration of racism is lovely, well-analyzed, and super important. Would highly recommend, especially the super-short audiobook, for the takedown of white supremacy and fantastic writing.

// I’m begging you on my fucking knees to read this — ★★★★★

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway | ★★★★.5 🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 | speculative

  • That was… unexpected. Far From the Tree is an exploration of family, the one you find and the one you’re born into. Great concept, right? But I definitely did not guess just how good this would be. A story like this is one that can only succeed based off stellar character work, and my expectations for character work in contemporary is often quite low. But this was so lovely.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant | ★★★★.5 🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 | speculative suspense

  • The best title for this book would be bi mermaid horrorInto the Drowning Deep is all the best of the horror genre – tense atmosphere, creative horror, interesting characters, and fantastic writing.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle| ★★★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️🌸 | speculative suspense

  • Now THAT was the gay witch book I’ve always deserved. This is an exceptionally weird book, but it’s one with a lot of meaning, exploring self-hate, the sins of the mother, and rape culture with the found family trope.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland | ★★★★★🏳️‍🌈☀️| histfic action

  • Honestly, black zombie hunters in the Reconstruction era is definitely the best historical fiction concept of all time. And this totally, completely lived up to my expectations. It’s hella diverse and packed with action and I just couldn’t put it down.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff | ★★★★★🏳️‍🌈 | fantasy

  • So, this reminds me of Hogwarts for assassins. After the admittedly crappy first 100 pages, I just could not put this down.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum | ★★★★★🏳️‍🌈🌸 | speculative

  • Have you ever read a book that you love, but also feel as if you’d be judged by everyone for recommending? This is that book for me. An odd, atmospheric read that I’m 90% sure will be polarizing, but that I utterly adored.
review

a new fav anthology! — Three Sides of a Heart

Three Sides of a Heart by Various — ★★ — releases Dec. 19

Average Rating: 3.81 Stars, but I’m giving a five because there were so many stories here on my new faves list. This was a fantastic short story collection, and I have to admit I was really pleasantly surprised after seeing some mediocre reviews.

What stands out about this collection to me is the creativity.So much speculative fiction and so many weird ideas! There’s a lot of weirdness hidden within this collection, and I have no doubt even some of my fave stories will be polarizing – I’ve already seen two one-star reviews for one of my fave stories, lol – but I think everyone will be able to come away with a few favorites out of all these weird and wonderful stories.

If you only want my recommendations for best stories in this collection, try the badass sapphic alternate history of Justina Ireland’s Dread South, the speculative character-driven scifi of Natalie C. Parker’s Cass, An, and Dra, the friendship-focused contemporary of Veronica Roth’s Vim and Vigor, the weird and wonderful magical realism tone of Brenna Yovanoff’s Vega, the fascinating characters and stunning setting depiction of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s A Hundred Thousand Threads, and the saddest thing I have ever read, Bethany Hagen’s Unus, Duo, Tres. You’ll notice that’s a full 6 of the 16 stories in this collection. I am SO. HAPPY.

# FULL STORY REVIEWS
Since I mostly wanted subversions out of this anthology, I’m going to put a 🏳️‍🌈 to indicate love triangles that aren’t three heterosexual individuals, and a ☀️ to indicate trope subversion or stories I felt did something totally new with the love triangle.

Riddles in Mathematics by Katie Cotugno – ★★★ 🏳️‍🌈
This is contemporary following a girl, her brother, and her brother’s maybe-girlfriend. This was cute, first of all, and I like that part of this love triangle was simply a guy and a girl who everyone thinks are dating but aren’t necessarily at all. Unfortunately, I think I misunderstood and believed they were dating for part of the reading. I also don’t love that the burden is put on our protagonist to deal with her homophobic parents; how, exactly, is it teenage angst to not want to associate with a mother who can’t shut up about your short hair? She’s the parent. She can deal.

Dread South by Justina Ireland – ★★★★★ 🏳️‍🌈☀️
I’M SCREAMING AT HOW GOOD THIS WAS. It’s about a badass black zombie hunter girl in the post-civil war era and the girl who falls for her. And LOTS of trope subversion. Every racist trope, especially the “you’re the one good black person” trope, just died a very painful death. Writing style rocked, concept is of course badass – civil. war. zombie. hunters. – and honestly, I’m just so here for gfs murdering racists. Good concept and great story.

Omega Ship by Rae Carson – ★★ ☀️
It’s about… a naked girl and two hot naked boys having to repopulate the earth. Which, trope subversion, yay? I think Carson was going for a subversive feminist little story, and there was one moment towards the end I liked, but… I think the concept was just too fucking messy for this to ever turn out well. It just got cringey.

La Revancha del Tango by Renee Ahdieh – ★★★
This is about a girl in Buenos Aires and the boys she meets along the way. I think fans of good contemporary romance will enjoy this a lot, but it didn’t do a ton for me. Liked the banter, but the whole sexy-tango-dancing thing is just not me. Also, very weak love triangle and nothing new was done with it.

Cass, An, and Dra by Natalie C. Parker – ★★★★★ 🏳️‍🌈☀️
This is a novella in which our main character, Cass, can see the outcomes of her decisions before she makes them – until she ends up torn between An, her best friend or maybe something more, and Dra, a hypnotizing person she’s just met. And it is really, really, really compelling. I felt like I couldn’t breathe towards the end. It’s more of an urban fantasy story about choices than anything else; I’d argue the love triangle is somewhat immaterial, but it’s a great way of conveying the story. (Honestly, the ideal ending to this one is them all getting together.)

Lessons for Beginners by Julie Murphy – ★★★★ 🏳️‍🌈
Bi girl falls in love with another girl while giving her and her boyfriend kissing lessons. Cute, cute, and cute. Nothing new with the love triangle, maybe, but I really enjoyed reading this.

Triangle Solo by Garth Nix – ★
Listen, I’m sorry, but it is laughable how terribly this was written. The constant ellipses. The obvious reveals. Everything. God, it was just terrible.

Vim and Vigor by Veronica Roth – ★★★★★ ☀️
Oh my god, this was so beautiful? It takes a story about a love triangle and turns it into a story about genuine friendship. So much trope subversion.

Work in Progress by E.K. Johnston – ★★★ 🏳️‍🌈☀️
This follows three possibly all in love with each other characters, Alex, Tab, and CJ. Each of the three stories has three sections, one for each POV. Mostly, I just found this a bit confusing: the gimmick is cool, but I didn’t catch on quickly enough and honestly found it a little too weird. Definitely not a typical love triangle, though – I really liked that none of the characters were gendered.

Hurdles by Brandy Colbert – ★★★
…huh. This follows a girl caught between her normal boyfriend and normal life, and a boy she deeply loves. Which is something slightly new, I guess, but even this I’ve seen done before. I have… so many mixed feelings. I liked all the characters and the idea, but I had too many issues to really get fully immersed. First off, our main character here read really similar to Suzette from Little and Lion AND the main character of Colbert’s Summer Days anthology story. And I suppose I just… found it kind of boring. The non-ending doesn’t help; it would’ve worked if I’d connected with everything more, but since I felt so apathetic towards the story, it did nothing.

The Historian, The Garrison, and the Cantakerous Catwoman by Lamar Giles – ★★★★ ☀️
…holy crap. Um, I’m not going to say anything about this, but I think you should read this to the end.

Waiting by Sabaa Tahir – ★★★★
This was a pleasant surprise! It’s contemporary about a girl caught between two great guys, each with their own issues and good parts. It’s not anything new, but I think I enjoyed this mostly because I genuinely liked both dudes. Another one where the ideal ending would’ve been them all getting together.

Vega by Brenna Yovanoff – ★★★★★ ☀️
It’s a love triangle between a girl, a boy, and a city. And I’m pretty sure half its readership is going to end it like “huh?” but it’s still worth reading because HOLY CRAP I LOVED IT. Brenna Yovanoff just knows how to get to the heart of the human soul, and this short story is no exception. Her writing is just… holy shit, I adore it. I loved the picture I had in my head of Las Vegas while reading; Yovanoff just excels at creating mood quickly, and making you care for stories.

A Hundred Thousand Threads by Alaya Dawn Johnson – ★★★★★ ☀️
This was really really lovely. It’s a story about a futuristic Mexico and rebellion. I don’t know exactly what I liked most about this, but I think it was probably the writing – just stunning – and the characters, who I cared about so much by the end I was near tears. The story, while occasionally confusing, had me rapt with its odd tone and intriguing worldbuilding. Can’t recommend enough – in fact, I’d love to read a full length novel.

Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton – ★★★★ 🏳️‍🌈☀️
This was quite odd; it’s a high fantasy story about an antihero, and there’s also some high fantasy polyamory going on? I felt that the actual story and worldbuilding was too confusing to truly adore, but I found the writing quite engaging.

Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen – ★★★★★ 🏳️‍🌈☀️
Poly vampires and a whole lot of antiheroes. That was… the most painful thing I’ve read in my life. I cannot even begin to convey how painful this was. I reject this story and I very much reject this ending. I’m blocking all of you. Fuck. No one asked, Bethany Hagen. No one.

VERDICT: A collection of weird and fantastic speculative fiction stories that left me totally enthralled. This story collection was so much more than I expected and I can’t recommend this enough.

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book chat

learning how to read — a discussion

I have recently noticed just how many five stars I give in comparison to last year. And… well. At first I was worried it was a bad thing and I was less critical than I thought. But you know what? I’m not. Getting more critical has made my ratings and want-to-reads so much more decisive. So let’s talk why reviewing, something that involves tearing books apart habitually, has made me a better reader.

♔ I appreciate good books more.

Two years ago, I gave 90% of my reads three or four stars. When I did give out five stars, I was easily persuaded by other reviewers that the book wasn’t actually that good – we’ll talk about that later. Reviewing forces me to figure out what I like and appreciate about a book, which in turn makes me simply enjoy reading more.

♚ I’m confident in my opinions.

Back before I was a reviewer, I was easily persuaded by other reviewers to change my ratings and round up or down. Why? Because my opinions weren’t that solid. Nowadays, I have to think through how I feel – recognize the flaws, and recognize the good points. When I see a reviewer trash my favorite book now, I simply agree or disagree and move on. But either way, I don’t have to follow the crowd with my reviews because I know that I’m doing okay.

♔ I’ve gotten better at literary analysis, meaning I get more out of my reads.

You know how English teachers always tell you do analyze symbolism? Well, that can actually be so much fun. If you let yourself enjoy it.

♚ I know better what I want to read.

I have had way more luck selecting books I actually enjoy nowadays, and why? It’s because I know what to look for in reviews. I know the hints in a blurb, the hints in a review, and everything else that’ll truly make me love a book.

For example, I’m not a big fan of romance as the focus of a book, and I’ve learned to find the clues of when a romance doesn’t seem like my thing. For example, when a book is marketed mostly off the book-boyfriend hype, I’m probably not going to like it because thats just not what I got for. But on the flip side, I LOVE character-driven books, so when I see someone say they connected a lot to the characters, it’s a must-read.

♔ It teaches me to think for myself.

Kind of related to the earlier confidence thing, reviewing is all about learning to go apart from the crowd and trust my own opinions.

But of course, that doesn’t mean I ignore other opinions! It’s about finding the balance between reading other reviews and seeing other opinions, but also learning to consciously analyze reviews I read for bias or simply different perspective.

♚ It improves my writing skills.

I KNOW WHAT GOOD WRITING LOOKS LIKE NOW. SHOCKING. And when I analyze what worked and didn’t work about it a book, it teaches me what works and doesn’t work for my own writing. I so appreciate that.

➽ And, in conclusion!! ➽

Reviewing makes me better. That’s all there is to it. I am more adept at recognizing nuance, better at writing, better at English, and enjoy reading much more.

non-book posts, wrap-ups

October+November Favs — getting back in theater kid mode with Heathers

Helloooooooooo! I have never done any of these posts before, but you know what? I do so many posts about my life outside of books. Why not do one with all the things I’ve loved these last couple months?

YA GIRL IS BACK ON HER BULLSHIT, AKA HER THEATER KID-NESSScreen Shot 2017-11-03 at 1.23.47 PM.png

What is my favorite musical about murderers? Because I was obsessively listening to two in the last month alone. Okay, okay. Yes, my favorite musical about murderers is Heathers.

I honestly don’t even want to explain what this musical / movie is about. Um. A bottle of mineral water is held up meaningfully. At one point, the line “I love my dead gay son” is delivered by a sobbing father. A teacher calls a suicide note “the loveliest she has ever read”. Someone’s middle finger is shot right off. Basically, it’s so weird that it somehow manages to be really, really funny. And also deeply emotional.

I played Ms. Fleming, a character who is a ton of fun and not the greatest person of all time.

Other Events / Occurrences

It’s actually been a somewhat sedentary month aside from high school. At the beginning of November, I got the chance to sing Greensleeves at a school assembly.

In terms of television, I’ve actually been watching a lot, which is awesome! At the beginning of October, I got the chance to finish The Handmaid’s Tale, which I adored, and rewatched Big Little Lies, one of my current favorite shows of all time. During November, I watched all of season one of American Horror Story, which I liked a lot more as it progressed! The found family trope is strong. In a more-like-a-movie move, I watched two episodes of one of my favorite shows, Black Mirror. And now that we’re nearing the end of the month, I’ve been catching up on Brooklyn Nine Nine, which is and always will be my favorite comedy ever.