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#FemmeFanTale Readathon!

femmefantaleSo Jean of Jean Bookishthoughts is hosting a fantasy readathon from March 2nd to March 10th. The theme is fantasy books written by women, which speaks to my goddamn soul. I have actually never participated in a readathon before, so I have little to no expectations of myself. However, I do know there’s no way in hell that I will all these books in eight days, especially since I have to work full-time for five of those eight days! So, since I’ve been meaning to dedicate some time to fantasy anyway, I figure this is a good time to designate March as fantasy month, so whatever I don’t finish during the readathon (probably like 80% of these books lmao), I will read during the rest of March!

I really cannot overstate how absolutely excited I am for this! Adult fantasy is my favorite genre, but it takes a lot of wading through mediocre crap written by white men to get to the real gems. It’s not a guarantee that a book written by a woman is going to be good, of course, but the chances are certainly much higher that it will at least be free of all the weird sexist crap that men tend to bring with them. Fingers crossed, anyway!

So, you don’t technically have to hit everything on the bingo board; I think that’s just there as a kind of inspiration. But I’ve tried to include at least one book that fits into each category, and it worked out pretty well.

 

ADULT
The Tethered Mage
Melissa Caruso

the tethered mage

I’d been wholly under the impression that this book was YA, but the author describes it as adult fantasy, so that’s what I’m going with! There’s a really weird tendency to class any fantasy written by a woman about a woman as YA, but considering this is published by Orbit, that definitely makes it adult fantasy, no matter what Goodreads readers think. I’ve seen this author around on Twitter but this book first came on my radar when Madi (The Book Pusher on YouTube) praised it to high heaven. I adore Madi and we have similar taste in fantasy books so I think I’ll like this! I’ve also heard it describeD as Venetian fantasy, and I adore fantasy with canals, so!


YA
Seraphina
Rachel Hartman

seraphina

Funnily enough, this was a book I’d thought was adult, but is actually YA! I think this was a really popular book when it first came out back in…2012, I think? But I haven’t really heard much about it these days, though the author just released another book. It’s about a world where humans and dragons live side by side, and the heroine is a musician, I think, thrust into a murder mystery at court. Sounds cool!


STANDALONE
Fire Dance
Ilana C. Meyer

fire dance

I read this author’s debut and liked it well enough, but gave it a rather lukewarm three stars. I kind of thought it was uninspired. Still, I liked it enough to give her second book a shot. Plus it’s the only standalone fantasy I could find that’s a reasonable length! I really love the cover, which makes this seems like it’s going to be a blend of fantasy and sci-fi, but the summary seems like traditional fantasy, so I don’t know. I’m excited!


ROMANCE
Radiance
Grace Draven

radiance

Jean really enjoys this book, but I’d seen it floating around Goodreads even before she talked about it. I’m not usually a fan of romance, but I am a fan of the arranged marriage trope! This is also the type of fantasy that’s normally out of my wheelhouse; it’s kind of niche and a little obscure, and I think it’s also self-published! I’ve only ever read a self-published book once in my life and it was a horrendous experience, but I’m hoping this book will change my mind, since I’ve heard good things.


QUEER
Fire Logic
Laurie J. Marks

fire logic

This is where I’m cheating a little bit, because I’m also counting this as a “published pre-2000” book even though it was actually published in 2002. But I mean, hey, close enough, right? It’s definitely got the look of a 90s antasy book. I first heard about this book at the Sirens Conference a few years back, when there were so few sapphic books on the market that there were only, like, three recommendations of mainstream books featuring sapphic relationships, and this is one of them. It sounds like the type of fantasy that will take some effort to get into but that I will end up loving.


FAIRYTALE RETELLING
Heart’s Blood
Juliet Marillier

heart's blood

This is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and will also be my first Juliet Marillier read. It could probably also fit into the romance and historical categories. I know virtually nothing else about this book, but I’m excited to finally give Juliet Marillier’s writing a shot!


Historical
Sorcerer to the Crown
Zen Cho

sorcerer_front mech.indd

I just bought this book like a week ago! And the sequel has finally come out after, what, four years or something? This is a much beloved historical fantasy set in England that I always tended to confuse with V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s something to do with sorcerers in historical England. That’s all I know; I don’t even know what century it’s supposed to take place in. But England and magic? Count me in.


Inspired by Myth
Under the Pendulum Sun
Jeanette Ng

under the pendulum sun

I’ve had this book for ages, since I purchased it at the Sirens Conference a couple of years ago. Honestly? It was entirely a cover buy. I literally saw the cover, snatched it up, and bought it. Didn’t even read the summary, to be totally honest with you. Don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. But it turned out well, since this is apparently a Gothic, Victorian-inspired tale of faerie. All I’ve heard is that it’s beautifully written and creepy. I’m so excited!


POC/BAME
Empire of Sand
Tasha Suri

empire of sand

This book came out late last year and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it ever since, even though it hasn’t been very hyped up. I’m really intrigued by the summary and the setting (desert fantasy! inspired by Mughal history!) and the arranged marriage trope features here again. And honestly I’m just really in the mood for some good old high fantasy; the fact that it’s written by a POC author is just an added bonus!


Translated
Vita Nostra
Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Julia Meitov Hersey (Translator)

vita nostra

I’m kind of apprehensive about this one. I don’t usually read translated lit, and everything I’ve heard about this book from friends who’ve read it makes it seem impenetrable, confusing, and just plain weird. But those same friends have also rated it very highly, and perhaps it’ll be the kind of weird I’m into.

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Black History Month TBR

I hadn’t planned on doing a themed TBR, so as of now I’m still reading what I carried over from January. That is, I’m finishing up Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. I’m reading the finales of both right now! However, I really, really hope to get some major reading done this weekend and at least finish The Winter of the Witch, so I can get started on my themed TBR.

But without further ado, let’s get to the books I want to read for Black History Month!divider

Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America 
Kali Nicole Gross

hannah mary tabbs

Shortly after a dismembered torso was discovered by a pond outside Philadelphia in 1887, investigators homed in on two suspects: Hannah Mary Tabbs, a married, working class, black woman, and George Wilson, a former neighbor that Tabbs implicated after her arrest. As details surrounding the shocking case emerged, both the crime and ensuing trial — which spanned several months — were featured in the national press. The trial brought otherwise taboo subjects such as illicit sex, adultery, and domestic violence in the black community to public attention. At the same time, the mixed race of the victim and one of his assailants exacerbated anxieties over the purity of whiteness in the post-Reconstruction era.

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this odd little book, but it will be my first foray into true crime. The lurid nature of this case – mixing sex and murder and race – is fascinating to me, but the time period makes it doubly so; the 19th-century is my favorite time period, so I’m very excited to read about this weird little pocket of history.


So You Want to Talk About Race
Ijeoma Oluo

so you want to talk about race

Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

I’ve admired this author’s work on The Establishment for years and years, and then this book came out! I’m not really sure why it’s taken me so long to read it, but I’m glad to finally be getting around to it!


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Robin DiAngelo

white fragility

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

At ALA Midwinter 2019, this past month, Robin DiAngelo was the keynote speaker. It was a fraught conference overall, with many incidents of harassment targeted at black women and people walking out of DiAngelo’s talk. This is such an important topic and it is so timely; I can’t wait to read it.


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Reni Eddo-Lodge

why i'm no longer talking to white people about race

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

So here’s something: I know literally nothing about black history in Britain. But I certainly want to. I’ve heard great things about this book from British book bloggers, so I’m looking forward to picking this up!


How Long ’til Black Future Month?
N.K. Jemisin

how long til black future month

In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

And finally, the only fiction book on this list, and written by my favorite author at that! I adore N.K. Jemisin’s writing, long and short form, and I had already planned on reading at least one short story collection this month, so this is very fitting!

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TV Corner: Salem (Season 2)

salem

Oh lord. This has been one hell of a season. This will be a spoiler-filled discussion, fyi. Also, if you’ve watched this show, please come talk to me about it!

Salem is such an odd show – I can never quite tell what it wants to be. I’m not sure its writers know either. It’s such a muddle of things – mythologies, folklore, morality – and it is ever-changing and ever-shifting.

Continue reading “TV Corner: Salem (Season 2)”

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Wrap-Up: January 2019

  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (★★★★☆)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (★★★★★)
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (★★★★★)
  • Virgins: A Cultural History by Anke Bernau (★★★☆☆)
  • Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World by Khaled El-Rouayheb (★★★☆☆)
  • The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (★☆☆☆☆)
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand (★★★☆☆)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (★★★★☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 8
YEARLY SO FAR: 8

It’s been, if nothing else, a productive reading month. I finally read The Hate U Give, a buddy read with Rachel, and got started on finishing up the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I also finally got around to Furyborn, which I’ve checked out of the library like twice before but never got around to it. I also read some non-fiction (which was meh) and a short story collection (which was abysmal).

I am currently reading:

 

Remember my 2019 reading resolutions, when I said I wouldn’t read more than one book of the same genre at a time? Look how well that’s turned out. In my defense, these are technically different fantasy genres (high, historical, and urban/portal). I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with Promise of Blood, to be honest – the first chapter was very meh and I don’t know if I have the patience to read a 400+ page book about old white men. We shall see.

Life Update:

I just got back from Seattle, where I was attending a leadership symposium for aspiring library professionals. The symposium was part of the requirements for one of my library school fellowships/scholarships, and it was focused on entering the library profession as a person of color. It was a fantastic experience; I met so many wonderful people and gained so much confidence. It was truly rewarding and enriching.

While at the symposium, I also received the news that I had been rejected by Fulbright. Which is fine. I think what bothers me most is that I didn’t even make it past the first round – I think I had a fantastic application, if I do say so myself. But I suppose it’s better, logistically, to be rejected now rather than in April. So much of my life had been put on hold in case I had to uproot my life to another country. Now, at least, I can focus on the present.

I began my final semester of library school this week. I’m going to be writing my thesis this semester, and I am going to be writing it on fandom. Specifically, I’d like to focus on how certain fandom spaces like AO3 are essentially community archives because they have been set up in response to censorship (Livejournal strikethrough, the Fanfiction.net purge, the Tumblr purge, etc). Gathering sources has been so nostalgic and so much fun; I’m basically wading through Fandom Days of Olde to tell all this history. I have no idea how I will structure my paper yet, but I’m excited that I found a topic I’m passionate about.

Finally, I am awaiting responses from many, many agents. The waiting………is excruciating. Five agents have my full manuscript at the moment, while about fourteen others have my query. Truly………the waiting and not knowing is the worst.

But in thinking about agents and writing I also spent the month thinking about my Online Brand and trying to make it more cohesive. Essentially, that meant deciding what was going to be my Professional Writer Brand and what was going to be my Fandom Brand. In the end, I decided to bring the two together, which meant linking this blog to my professional website, and linking both of those to my Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. My personal Tumblr, that is – I deleted the “professional” Tumblr I had created, which I wasn’t using and didn’t want to use, and decided to just stick with my regular Tumblr. This doesn’t seem like much, but it’s brought me a lot of sanity. My online presence is a significant part of my life, so it’s comforting that I am finally happy with how I am presenting myself.

TV + Film Update:

On New Year’s Eve, I binge-watched Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, which I can honestly say I would never have watched had it not starred John Krasinski. It was fun, though, one of those addicting series. I also started Castlevania, which has really beautiful scenery artwork and appeals to my aesthetic in so many different ways. I also binged You, which was sufficiently creepy and disturbing. At the moment, though, I’m majorly obsessed with Salem and working my way through the second season.

I spent quite a bit of time and effort setting up a new Television Masterpost because I watch an ungodly amount of television and I need it to be organized in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

I watched two films that were majorly WTF: Angelica (2015) and Muse (2017). I watched the latter because it starred my bae Elliot Cowan and also it seemed appropriately Gothic? But it was just confusing and kind of boring. Angelica I watched with my mother of all people after she had randomly pulled it up; y’all know I can’t resists something set in the Victorian era so I powered through even as the film kept getting weirder and weirder. I also watched To All the Boys I Loved Before (2018), which I enjoyed waaaaaaay more than the book (which I DNF’d).

Well, this has been a long one, but it’s been a rather eventful month for me! Happy February, and happy Black History Month! In honor of the month, I will hopefully finally get around to reading So You Want to Talk About Race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and White Fragility. I’m pretty certain I have them all on my Kindle. The rest of my TBR is pretty much up in the air; all I know for certain is I will be finishing the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy as well as Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy and hopefully reading another collection of short stories.