Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2020

  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (★★☆☆☆)
  • Monster She Wrote by Lisa Kroger & Melanie R. Anderson (★★★★★)
  • I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum (★★★★☆)
  • Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier (★★★☆☆)
  • Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri (★★★★★)
  • Good Talk by Mira Jacob (★★★★★)
  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (★★★☆☆)
  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (★☆☆☆☆)
  • Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford (★★★☆☆)
  • I Was their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib (★★★★★)
  • Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings (★★★★☆)
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carrol (★★★★★)


As you can see, the reading year is off to a rather auspicious beginning!

I read a really good variety of books, including several nonfiction and graphic novels, which I don’t usually read! My favorite books of the month were: Monster She Wrote, which was a truly empowering piece of nonfiction about the lives and influence of women who write speculative fiction. As a writer myself it’s hard not to be inspired by that. And Realm of Ash, the companion to one of my favorite books of 2019, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking just like Empire of Sand, the first book in the series.

My least favorite book was, sadly, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. I can’t believe I gave it such a low rating, but I truly hated most of the short stories in the book. It doesn’t help that I’m already super picky about short stories. But I really thought gaslamp fantasy would be my jam, and I’m still really into the idea of it, but the stories in this book just didn’t work for me (except for two that were really good).

I am currently reading:

I’ve never read a craft book cover to cover before, so Save the Cat! will be my first foray into actually teaching myself some genuine craft work! I’ve only read half a chapter so far but I’m already having multiple epiphanies, so that bodes well. You Let Me In is a very creepy supernatural thriller and I’m really enjoying it so far. Resenting the Hero is not what I expected my next fantasy read to be (I’d been leaning towards The Wolf of Oren-Yaro), but it was on my Winter Reads TBR, so I picked it up, and, wow, it’s so readable and absolutely hilarious. I loooooove funny fantasy; it’s so rare to find high fantasy that’s light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is gonna be a wild romp; I can tell.

Television Update

I started watching Manifest and powered through half of the first season in a single week, and then just…stopped. I don’t know why. I’ll get back to it at some point, but I think it’s one of those shows where I was just super curious about the weird premise (after extreme turbulence, plane passengers land only to discover that they have been missing for five years but have not aged a day) but once it starts to stretch out with zero answers, it gets tedious (reminds me a bit of Lost, actually).

I also started watching Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, which is…surprisingly great? The lead actress, Ashleigh Cummings, brings so much heart to the role, and the other main character is a black librarian. There’s so much complexity given to Cummings’ character and her home life, including her parents’ toxic relationship, and I’m finding the mythology of it all really creative. The series is overall super compelling!

I am majorly behind on like every show on my roster, sadly, including The Good Place, which apparently just aired its series finale? Really, really gotta get on that! Another show that’s finishing up this year that I am majorly behind on is Supernatural. It long ago stopped being good, but I am determined to finish it up.


I saw Oklahoma! on stage. You may recall that it won Best Revival at the Tonys. It was a very bizarre show. I wasn’t at all familiar with the original production, but given its title I had expected something very wholesome, but what I got was a really sinister and even disturbing portrayal of…idk, toxic masculinity? The underbelly of Americana? It was dark, man. Now that I’ve processed it and accepted that, I think I liked it? But it was also really funny, which meant that tonally it was kind of jarring. I don’t know. Memorable, to be sure, so I’m glad I caught it right before it closed.

My last day of work was Friday, and I start my brand new job tomorrow! My first meeting is at 10AM, from home, and I’m still reeling from how surreal that is.

Otherwise most of my time has been taken up with doing edits on my book! Maybe at some point I’ll talk more about that process?

Finally, I wanted to share two short non-fiction pieces I read this month that I really enjoyed!

New Year’s Resolution: As Wrapped Up in an Angry Emotional Womanly Rant was written by one of my favorite TV bloggers. In this post she discusses the excessive fridgeing of women seen on television in 2019 (beginning and ending with Game of Thrones) and how it comes from a long tradition of belittling women’s pain and sexual violence, going all the way back to Xena Warrior Princess. When Rav lists the multitudes of examples of women being raped or murdered or suffering some kind of sexual violence, it’s…staggering. It’s exhausting. But it’s a brilliant post that highlights the need for new stories written by women.

The Consolation of Genre: On Reading Romance Novels by Cailey Hall writes about the history of the romance novel and why it’s such a popular genre among women. She also touches on the ways in which romance is derided, and why that might be the case. It’s a really perspective-shifting read, especially if you, like me, can’t help having some small internalized bias against the romance genre.

2 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2020

  1. It looks like you had a great month! 🙂 I also read and (mostly) enjoyed Follow Me to Ground this month, and I spy some good ratings for a few other books already on my TBR, which is always encouraging. I hadn’t heard of You Let Me In before but I just had to look it up and it sounds really good- I’m glad you’re enjoying it! (Though I am sorry to see you didn’t have a better time with We Have Always Lived in the Castle!)


    1. I definitely had a nice productive month! It helps that it was my last month of work so I had lots of free time on my hands. 😉

      I highly recommend You Let Me In. I think it’s going to end up being one of my favorite books of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

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