Wrap Up: July 2020

  • The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar  ★★★★☆ (4/5)
  • One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London  ★★★★★ (5/5)
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victore La Valle  ★★★★☆ (4/5)
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin  ★★★★☆ (3.5/5)
  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power  ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
  • The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Anders  ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
  • The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley  ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
  • Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman  ★★☆☆☆ (2.5/5)
  • The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin  ★★★★☆ (4/5)
  • Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch  ★★★★★ (4.5/5)
  • Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke  ★★★★☆ (4/5)
  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles  ★★★☆☆ (3/5)


I’ve had a very diversified reading month! I’ve read high fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction, urban fantasy, horror, YA contemporary, and women’s fiction/romance. I also managed to finish reading all the Hugo novel nominees, so I’m very, very pelased with myself! Continue reading “Wrap Up: July 2020”


Hugo Finalists 2020

hugo finalists

I’d never paid very much attention to prize lists before, but I have several friends who regularly read the entire Women’s Prize List, so these book prizes slowly started becoming ingrained into my psyche. This year, very much on a casual whim, I decided that I would read the all Hugo novel finalists. Partly, it was because when I saw the Hugo list I realized I’d already read two of them and planned to read two more, but also because it’s kind of fun to read the entire list and make guesses as to which one will win!

And also, you know, SFF is my genre. It’s what I write and mainly what I read, so it certainly behooves me to be aware of what is popular in the community. This is a particularly salient point for the Hugos, because unlike, say, the Women’s Prize books, which are selected by a panel of judges, the Hugo finalists are based on votes by members of Worldcon, so it really is an indication of the community’s current inclinations. When I say “the community,” of course, that’s a complicated word – most lay readers are probably not members of Worldcon, nor are they voting in the Hugos, so these nominations likely reflect people who are in the industry – writers, editors, reviewers, artists, etc.

I only committed to read the adult novels, because short stories and novellas and novelletes usually aren’t my thing.

Anyway, read on for my thoughts! Continue reading “Hugo Finalists 2020”


20 Favorite First Lines in Books

Favorite First Lines 2

First lines are magical. While a bad or mediocre first line won’t make or break a story, a great first line can absolutely propel it into greatness. A great first line will immediately attract a reader, will make them laugh in delight or quirk an eyebrow in curiosity or sigh in awe. I love the potential of first lines, and the way they can entirely capture a story’s tone and tenor in a single sentence.

A few weeks ago there was a Top 5 Tuesday topic about first lines, and because I’m always late to these parties, I’m only doing this now, and I’m doing 20 first lines, because I can’t choose. I’ve read 17/20 of the books listed below; the remaining three include one I DNF’d (sad, given it’s one of my favorite first lines ever) and two I still intend to read.

So, in absolutely no order whatsoever because ranking would have driven me insane, enjoy! Continue reading “20 Favorite First Lines in Books”


Best Books of 2020 (So Far!)

Now that we’re officially halfway through the year, and I have read 62 books, it’s time to talk about my ten faves of the year so far! These are arranged in the order in which I read them. It’ll be interesting to see which books make it to the best books of the year in December! These are in the order that I read them, because ranking them is too stressful. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(Note: I am choosing not to include nonfiction, as I’ve been reading more nonfiction this year and will probably just talk about all of them in a separate post at the end of the year.) Continue reading “Best Books of 2020 (So Far!)”


Woman Crush Wednesday: Sara Howard (The Alienist)

Sara Howard is loosely based on Isabella Goodwin, who was the first female police detective in New York City. Similarly, Sara Howard works as a secretary for the police commissioner of New York City, Theodore Roosevelt (yes, that Theodore Roosevelt!) but she has ambitions of rising above her station and her gender. Her intelligence and competence are readily apparent as soon as she becomes embroiled in the race to catch a serial killer, working alongside German-American psychologist Laszlo Kreizler, society illustrator John Moore, and Jewish-American twins and detective sergeants Marcus and Lucius Isaacson.

Continue reading “Woman Crush Wednesday: Sara Howard (The Alienist)”