Oh boy, this really is the perfect challenge prompt for me at the moment. While I am okay with reading several books at once, I don’t usually go overboard the way I am doing currently. But you’ll see it’s really not my fault. How can I help it when reading challenges have great prompts, finalists for some major SFF awards are announced, and then an e-ARC falls into my lap that actually made me run around the house screaming because I’m so happy. Add to that my long-time projects or books I’ve put to the side hoping the right mood will strike me soon to finish them…
ACTUALLY currently reading
Tade Thompson – The Rosewater Insurrection
I read the first book in the Wormwood Trilogy last year because it was a finalist for the Best Series Hugo Award. Although it was a difficult book to read – different timelines, crazy ideas, complex characters – I really enjoyed it. Just before Wyrd and Wonder started, I got the audiobook of the second volume and I think I’m enjoying this one even more than the first. It’s science fiction, not fantasy, but I don’t think I can wait until the end of Wyrd and Wonder to finish the book. I may just finish it today which means more time for the next fantasy book.
Catherynne M. Valente – Under in the Mere
This take on Arthurian legends by my favorite author is one of her older works, which means it’s even wordier and has even less of a plot than her newer books. Although it’s very short, I’m reading this in half-a-chapter-increments because, man, does Cat know a lot of words! Some chapters are more readable than others, painting a picture of one of Arthur’s knights and his particular plight. Others are more like a fever dream, with tons of references to classical myths, and very little substance. It’s just pretty words strung together prettily. Also, I am not sure I completely understand it. It’s told from the POV of Arthur’s knights but they’re in California? Maybe you need to know a lot more about Arthurian legend than I do to get it. So this won’t end up at the top of my Valente list but it also doesn’t change her status as my very favorite author!
Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance
This is a re-read (or technically a re-listen) because I haven’t actually read Rhythm of War yet and want to get myself back up to speed. The third book in the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer, especially had lots of new important information about the world and characters and I remember very little of it. That’s no way to go into a new Sanderson book, so I’m re-reading the series before diving into the newest book. I actually started with the last two parts of The Way of Kings (just the ending, which in Sanderson means 250 pages) and am now reading all of Words of Radiance. It’s still as exciting as it was the last time, except now I am catching more hints for things to come than I did on my first read.
T. Kingfisher – The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
I’ve only just started this book but ever since I met the sourdough starter named Bob in the very first chapter, I knew this would be hilarious. T. Kingfisher has been a favorite of mine for years (I actually first loved her fairy tale retellings) but combining baking, magic, and her brand of humor must be a new high. I cannot wait to join protagonist Mona on a search for who dropped that dead body in her bakery…
Marjorie Liu – The Tangleroot Palace
This isn’t technically a current read as I write this but by the time this post goes up, I will have started it. It’s an e-ARC (not the one I screamed about, but another one that makes me fairyl excited) and it comes out in June, so now is the perfect time to read it. This short fiction collection promises twists on fairy tales, magic in cool settings, and a full-length novella. And it’s by the writer of the Monstress comic book series.
Officially but not really currently reading
Okay, so I maaaay have started a book last year (!), put it aside and never picked it up again. I still want to finish it but there’s always other stuff that I need to read first. The book in question is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James and if you’ve read, or sampled, that book, you’ll know why I needed a break. It’s not only dark in terms of subject matter, plot, and characters, but the language is complex and sometimes difficult to understand. At least for me, as a non-native speaker. I’ve been waiting for the urge to read the second half of that book for months now and it hasn’t really struck yet. But I’m not giving up. I definitely want to know how that crazy story ends!
Second, a similar situation, although I do read a few pages here and there, is Little, Big by John Crowley. This book was fun enough for the first third or so. Then I kept wondering when the plot would finally start or at least when all those stories about multiple generations of the Drinkwater family would make sense. I am at about 65% and the thought of picking this book up feels more like a chore than fun. But it’s my favorite author’s favorite book and I do like the general atmosphere of it. I just hope that I’ll get some kind of plot within the next 5% or at the very least a mind-blowing twist at the end…
And last but not least, a book I’m only reading casually to practice my Spanish (or rather to revive my Spanish, as it seems to have mostly left my brain after years of not using it). Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, the first Harry Potter book, is something I’m reading without any pressure. I’ll pick it up and read a few pages one day, then put it down again for a few days – it’s not like I don’t know the story after all. The first few chapters took me forever because I had to look up so many words. By now, I can read without pausing after every sentence, but my brain is still much slower when processing Spanish than German or English. If I finish the book before our trip to Barcelona (if that even happens), that’s fine. No pressure, just lechuzas and varitas. 🙂
In case you’re wondering, the e-ARC I mentioned above is Cat Valente’s The Past is Red and I do want to dive into it right away. But. It’s science fiction, so not really the right fit for Wyrd and Wonder. And I am also feeling super guilty about those other books and feel like I should at least use this beautiful monthlong event to read a few chapters of them.
Then again, I already know reading everyone else’s #currentlyreading posts and tweets will distract me and draw my attention to all those exciting books I’ve been meaning to pick up and then my current reads will suddenly be forgotten again. It’s like a curse but at least we’re all suffering it together. 🙂
I’ll do this the same way I did it last year. I’ll go through the categories one by one, see how many books I’ve already read and what I think about the finalists. I will – again – leave out the categories about which I have little to say and/or which I don’t plan to vote in (like Best Editor, Long Form) or which don’t really fit this blog (the Dramatic Presentation categories).
Warning: This is going to be a long post. Feel free to skip ahead to a certain category or to my general thoughts at the very end.
Network Effect and The City We Became were both books I nominated for obvious reasons. I left out Piranesi because, well, I knew it didn’t need my help and I had some other, less buzzy books I wanted to support (Micaiah Jonson’s The Space Between Worlds ended up on my ballot for example – Johnson is an Astounding finalists so that makes me happy). And as much as I loved Clarke’s newest book, I don’t feel it’s a Hugo novel. It feels more like a World Fantasy or Mythopoeic Award kind of book, you know?
I look forward to finally continuing Mary Robinette Kowal’s excellent Lady Astronaut series and I knew – I just knew – that my fellow Hugo nominators would make me read the entire Locked Tomb series simply by nominating it. I was one of the very few people who didn’t find much to like in Gideon the Ninth but I’m willing to give Harrowa try. Although from what people have been saying it’s even more bonkers than the first so I don’t have high hopes that I will like it. But hey, I’m open for it. Maybe this time, aesthetics and cool names will be enough to entertain me.
I’m surprised that Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia didn’t make it. It was on my nominations ballot and there was a lot of hype surrounding that book. The author beats her own marketing drum hard all year round and it’s impossible to miss this book’s gorgeous cover. I was so sure she would make it onto the final ballot. Then again, horror books have a hard time at the Hugo Awards, so I guess I should have known better. I also expected Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future to be on here because Robinson is an old Hugo darling and always ends up as a finalist. To me, he is one of the authors the older Hugo voter generation nominates simply because he has written something – which doesn’t mean he isn’t deserving! I haven’t yet read any of his works so I wouldn’t know but I dislike authors being nominated rather than books and that seems to happen a lot. I guess times have changed a little and I can’t say I’m too upset. 🙂
Ah, the inevitable Seanan McGuire and her Wayward Children series. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that last year’s novella was actually very good but that doesn’t change the fact that, overall, she just shouldn’t be a finalist every year simply for having lots of fans. Not EVERY SINGLE ONE of her books is award-worthy. That’s not me being mean to her in particular, that goes for every author, even someone like N. K. Jemisin. But you can be sure, if McGuire has written something (and she’s always written something) it will end up on the Hugo ballot wherever it fits, taking a potential spot from a debut or underrated or marginalised author. I’ll read Come Tumbling Down and I hope it’s another good one, but can we please all admit someday that apparently, she just doesn’t write Hugo Award novels/novellas? She has won once for the first Wayward Children novella and then nothing ever again. And it’s really not for lack of chances as you’ll see when we meet her again further down the ballot, not once, but twice, because of course.
I wasn’t a big fan of Upright Women Wanted, and Riot Babysurprisingly fell flat for me. I loved the message of both these novellas but they lacked story/plot and didn’t hit me emotionally the way they promised. I think that’s mostly me, though, not the quality of the work. Gailey and Onyebuchi are both authors whose other work I adore! (This is a good example of how not to nominate authors simply because I like them but to nominate based on the quality of their eligible work. I would gladly throw Hugos at Gailey and Onyebuchi (figuratively speaking) but these particular books weren’t for me so I didn’t nominate them. It’s really not that hard…)
Ring Shout is a different story. I nominated it because that novella did everything right and completely blew me away. With two novellas still to read, I am fairly certain it will remain on the top of my ballot. The Empress of Salt and Fortunewas also excellent, although very different in tone. So far, these are my top two. I’m going to check out Finna and the McGuire, mull things over a bit and then decide on my final ranking.
Generally, I’m very sad that the entire ballot is made up of Tordotcom novellas. I love Tordotcom as much as the next guy but it wouldn’t hurt to have more variety on the ballot. And because I am one of the culprits who only nominated stuff from Tordotcom, I know that I myself should do better as well. So, here’s my appeal to other publishers: Please step up your game and promote your novellas the way you do novels if you want them to reach a wide reader base. Dear old-timey magazines: It’s 2021 so get with the times and make sure your online presence is inviting. Then people will come and read your stuff and, if it’s good (which I suspect it is), they will nominated it for awards.
Boy, am I glad it’s a Toby Daye year, not an InCryptid year! I’m only two books into the series (14 novels published so far, plus a ton of shorter stuff) but I genuinely liked both. I didn’t consider them award-worthy, because they are fun and have interesting characters but tons of books have that. For a Hugo Award, there should be a little more. I’m hoping to catch up a LOT on this series because people say it gets better and better and I’m curious to see if I hit the point where I go “oh, I get it now” and where I think the series as a whole should get a Hugo Award. Either way, this is one Seanan McGuire series I enjoy and would continue even without the bi-yearly nomination.
If you think it’s clear that Murderbot will win, wait a second. Yes, it’s universally beloved and it totally deserves an award. BUT. The series is still ongoing which means it has a chance of being nominated again and then winning, whereas The Daevabad Trilogy and the Poppy War series are finished. If we want to honor them with a Hugo, now is the time! That said, I also totally think Murderbot will take home the award.
I loved City of Brass and just started Kingdom of Copper which is also very good so far. I love how much more depth and politics the first book offered than I had expected. I also admit to shipping a certain couple and I’m curious to see where that goes. The question I’m going to ask with all the finalists here is whether the series as a whole is more than the sum of its parts – if it makes a difference whether you’ve just sampled the world and story or actually followed through until the end. The Poppy War is a tough one, in every way. I loved the first book, as much as you can love something that so utterly depresses you. I want to finish the trilogy but knowing a little of what’s ahead (pain, tears, death,…) it’s difficult to get in the right mood. I will absolutely read the other two books before the voting period ends but I need to pick them up between some super happy stuff! I enjoyed The Calcuating Stars a lot and it earned its Hugo Award two years ago. With the third in the series/universe being up for a Best Novel Hugo again, I’m even more excited to continue. Although I’ve mixed things up in the past – with Becky Chambers’ books for example – I will go in publication order here and read The Fated Sky before I dive into The Relentless Moon. The only series I haven’t even started yet is Scalzi’s Interdependency. I heard great things about the first book and… not so great ones about the last book. Scalzi is a strange one for me. I am a huge fan of him as a person and his online writings. I haven’t been such a fan of his fiction which makes me all the more curious to see what this sci-fi trilogy is like. My fingers crossed but I’m keeping expectations low.
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (0/6)
Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans – DIE, Volume 2: Split the Party
Seanan McGuire, Takeshi Miyazawa, Rosie Kämpe – Ghost-Spider vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over
G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward – Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything
Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda – Monstress, vol. 5: Warchild
Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora – Once & Future vol. 1: The King Is Undead
Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy, John Jennings- Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Okay, okay. There’s nothing too surprising on this ballot but I’m looking forward to all of those, even the – who would have expected this nomination?! – Seanan McGuire comic. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter when it comes to her? Cause I am definitely a little bitter and will tell you more at the bottom of this page.) Although I have technically read zero out of these finalists, I have read the first volume(s) of 3/6 of them.
Monstressis on the ballot yet again and while I’ve never fallen head over heels for this series, I find it beautifully drawn, I like the story, and I don’t begrudge it its success. It just doesn’t get me emotionally for some reason but I’ll gladly read the latest instalment when and if it’s included in the Hugo Voters Packet. Last year’s packet was amazing so I’m all caught up on the series except for this newest volume.
I am thrilled that G. Willow Wilson’s Invisible Kingdom vol 2is on here because I read volume 1 a few months ago and immediately put the second part on my wishlist. I haven’t gotten to it yet but I’m cackling in anticipation! This is such a cool world with original characters. Last year, Dievol. 1 was nominated and I found it pretty good, very dark, but also a bit too much of a set-up volume to really grip me. Again, this is a universe and an idea I’ll happily explore further and Kieron Gillen is someone I’ve come to trust. Gillen is nominated a second time, for the first volume in a new series, Once & Future, which seems to be a dark contemporary spin on the King Arthur legend. I have no idea what to expect but I’m here for it. King Arthur seems to be cool again, he also shows up in the Lodestar category. I also can’t wait to see what the Graphic Novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower will be like. It hasn’t been that long since I read the book so it’s all still fresh in my mind and I know there are things in that book that I do not want to see… I’m intrigued to read the graphic novel and see how things are depicted but at least I know the story is good. And last but not least, Seanan McGuire has written a Gwen Stacy comic titled Ghost-Spider. I am always up for some Spider Gwen, although reviews of this one are pretty middling. Also, it appears this “volume 1” is set after two volumes of Spider Gwen, the second of which is called Ghost-Spider Vol. 2? I haven’t made sense of it it yet and need to do more research but I am properly confused.
T. Kingfisher – A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys
Aaaaaaaah, this is such an exciting ballot! With the exception of Naomi Novik’s book – more on that later – I love how diverse and different all these books are.
Obviously, my beloved Raybeareris on here. I am so hyped for its sequel (and duology ender) so maybe I’ll give this a re-read before voting is over. I haven’t heard many people talk about this book so I am doubly glad enough people read and liked and nominated it. Because now even more people will read it and get to know Sunshine Girl and this beautiful found family! I just read Legendbornand enjoyed it quite a bit. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the way the King Arthur legend was used, but as a story of its own about a secret society at college, it worked fine. Its strengths were definitely the themes of dealing with loss and grief, racism and finding a place to belong. So I’m happy to see it nominated but for now, it feels like a middle of the ballot kind of book.
I have so much excitement for Elatsoe – it has a ghost dog, apparently! – as well as Cemetery Boys – a trans, Latinx protagonist is something new for me and I love reading different perspectives from my own. And T. Kingfisher is just T. Kingfisher. I can’t wait to meet her latest pragmatic protagonist and the shenanigans they get into. Maybe I should read this after one of the R.F. Kuang books…
Now, about A Deadly Education. We’re talking arbitrary frontiers here, like what even is the line between YA and adult fiction? Most of these lines are drawn by publishers and/or book sellers who put the book in a category and that’s what we sticks. I could be wrong (I can’t find the interview I remember reading) but didn’t Naomi Novik herself make clear that this is not YA? Like how dare we assume that just because a book is written by a woman and takes place at a magic school with teenage protagonists, it’s automatically YA? And I agree, that assumption is stupid and we should all be better than that. But then, when it gets nominated for an award, it’s suddenly okay again that the book is considered YA? That leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to say it mildly. I was one of the people who enjoyed this book – although I still can’t quite tell you why, it has so many problems – but I find the author’s behaviour a little strange. Add to that the fact that Novik is well established and beloved in the SFF community and doesn’t really need an awards boost. If you look at the other authors, they are all either new or not well know or not the big bestselling types and can each benefit greatly from being nominated. If Novik had declined the nomination (based on the fact that she doesn’t consider her book YA and it thus doesn’t fit the category), who would have gotten the last finalist spot? Guess we’ll have to wait until December to find out.
So that’s where those other buzzy books went. 🙂 The Unspoken Namen by A. K. Larkwood has been popping up here and there over the course of the last year. I haven’t read it yet but I’m glad to pick it up for Award reading. The same goes for The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons and the rest of the series – the speed with which these books are being published is stunning. I don’t know if it was the Game of Thrones-y style of the covers that kept me from picking them up so far or something else. But I look forward to checking it out.
The two authors I’ve read are Micaiah Johnson – I nominated her myself – and Emily Tesh. Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds was excellent and I even nominated it for Best Novel as well. I read the first of Tesh’s novellas, Silver in the Wood which was good, but didn’t stick in my memory for very long. I’ll read the second one, Drowned Country, but unless it has more memorably characters or a more exciting plot, I can’t say anything much nicer than that Tesh is a competent writer.
I am most excited about Simon Jimenez‘ novel The Vanished Birds. This feels like such a quietly buzzy book. I kept coming across it, in more literary circles as well as genre spaces, but the reactions to this book were overwhelmingly positive. So I cannot wait! Lindsay Ellis wasn’t on my radar at all, although I have seen Axiom’s End floating around. Whisleblower/first contact/conspiracy story sounds intriguing, especially because it’s not my usual cup of tea.
BEST FANCAST (5/6)
Be the Serpent
The Coode Street Podcast
The Skiffy and Fanty Show
Worldbuilding for Masochists
Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel
Here’s another category that gives me OPINIONS. Or, to say it better, that makes me feel like a bit of a fool.
Last year, I was so excited that a BookTuber was nominated, and even one that I knew and liked. Claire Rousseau used to do these Genrewise SFF News videos that summed up what’s going on in the field really well. She has a nice D&D based TBR game going with herself, and I liked her reviews, even when we didn’t agree. So I felt she totally deserved her nomination (last year). But in 2020, she has barely uploaded any videos – which I absolutely don’t mean to sound reproachful. It’s a pandemic and holy shit, we all understand when you have other things on your mind than creating content. But if you don’t create anything, should you be nominated for an award? Like, for what? For having made some videos for the first few months of the year and then just stopped? I follow Claire’s channel and I get notified when she uploads new stuff. She was completely off my radar for the second half of 2020 because there was simply nothing there. Her channel literally shows you the newest video (one day ago) and the video before (7 months ago). Again, I’m not saying Claire has any obligation to produce videos but I do believe that we should award fancasters who actually, you know, fancast. Her channel will probably be at the bottom of my ballot because I’ve already seen all her 2020 videos and they will have a hard time keeping up with what the other finalists have to offer. But I’m glad she plans to re-launch her channel and I’ll happily nominate her next year if she makes great videos again in 2021.
This year, Claire isn’t the only BookTuber on the Hugo ballot this year. Rachel from Kalanadi, a wonderfully calm and thoughtful person, has been making videos consistently for years. I also follow her (although I didn’t nominate her, I instead nominated The Fancy Hat Lady Reads, another BookTuber) and I especially like her long-term projects of reading certain award winners – she did the Tiptree a while back, she’s reading through the SF Masterworks, but she’s also very self-aware and checks in on her goals and reading stats. As with any reviewer, we don’t always agree, but I appreciate her reviews and the way she talks about books. I would definitely be happy to see her take home a Hugo Award.
Now to the podcasts. I like The Coode Street Podcast and its two incredibly well-read hosts, which I say every year. 🙂 I sometimes love, sometimes don’t like Skiffy and Fanty, also like every year. I have to listen to Be the Serpent more to make up my mind properly. And I don’t know Worldbuilding for Masochists at all, so this is exciting. I love discovering new things through the Hugo ballot and this is one of the few that’s actually completely new to me.
I will admit to a general bias on my part towards the BookTubers. This category has been going to podcasts for so long that I feel it’s time for a change. Having two BookTube finalists on the ballot is already a win but unless Be the Serpent or Worldbuilding absolutely blow me away, Kalanadi will be my first choice for this award.
In general, there is nothing overly surprising on this year’s ballot. In the Best Novel category, so many potential great books could have made it, it was really just a matter of who was nominating this year and what their personal favorites were. Some years, you just know one or two of the most hyped books, the ones everyone was talking about. But 2020, we were all talking about many buzzy books that we loved.
The one thing that I did notice last year, and in part with the Hugo finalists, is the blurry distinction between YA and adult novels. The Bone Shard Daughter, for example was very well received but was it YA or adult? I think it’s sold as adult but the marketing campaign gave it YA vibes, if you know what I mean. Maybe that kept people from nominating it or maybe some nominated it as Best Novel, others as a Lodestar? I’ll be interested to see the final stats in December.
The Best Related Work category is interesting this year. I don’t have enough to say about it to warrant its own section in this (huge) post, but it’s cool that a convention is nominated – although I have no idea how I, as a non-attendee, am supposed to judge that – as well as the ConZealand Fringe, a sort of side event alongside regular WorldCon which can be watched on YouTube. Add the obligatory ranty blog post and one actual non-fiction book and you have a pretty diverse category.
My (yearly) Seanan McGuire rant:
I’m so tired of having to read so much Seanan McGuire every year. You guys, I know I can sound mean when I talk about her, but I’m really just tired. It’s like this war inside me where, on the one hand, I want to give all nominated books a chance and vote fairly for what I thought was best, but on the other hand, I spend my precious time reading her books when I could be reading a debut author, a marginalised author, an underrated author, or even re-reading an old favorite. It’s getting to the point where I want to just not read her work, no matter the book – just the way she gets nominated every year, no matter the book. And if I don’t read it, I won’t vote for it. If her fans can convince themselves that every single of her works deserves an award, then I can convince myself of the opposite. The truth is probably somewhere in between but I guess we’ll never know because people aren’t always fair and authors aren’t always gracious.
Seanan McGuire is by far not the only author who has lots of Hugo nominations but only a single (or even no) win. The difference is that she writes so damn much that she takes up space in at least two categories every year. If she wrote a novel, a novella, and an instalment in a series, you can be damn sure she will be on the ballot in all three categories. If she really were that much of a literary genius, shouldn’t she be swimming in Nebula Awards? World Fantasy? Mythopoeic? I mean, those are the ones that get judged by other authors, by her peers. Interestingly, she was only nominated and won once for Every Heart a Doorway which is also her sole Hugo win (except for fancast but she was part of a larger group there). I know nothing I say here will sway the hardcore McGuire fans. And look, I’m glad she has so many fans and I’m glad they love her work that much. Finding a favorite author is a great thing, especially when that author churns out a ton of content every year. But if you count together all the spots taken up by McGuire works in the last few years, spots which eventually all ended up not winning – the potential other books for those spots could have given at least 10 other authors a hands up in the industry, a chance for a career, a chance to build their own fan base just like the one McGuire has. Simply not accepting a nomination – at least in one of the three/four/five categories – has apparently never crossed McGuire’s mind. After being told by the voters that her work is not deserving of a Hugo this many years in a row, maybe giving someone else a chance is a viable option?
This year, I will read all her nominated works again because I would feel like a quitter otherwise and they all sound interesting. But next year, I will definitely skip InCryptid – the first one is a book I’d be ashamed to have published – and only pick and choose the rest. Depending on this year’s Wayward Children novella, I may or may not read next year’s. And if you think these won’t make the ballot next year, don’t make me laugh. If it has the name Seanan McGuire on it, it will be on the ballot…
So now that’s out of the way again, I have decided to focus on the postives. There are so many books, graphic novels, and series I look forward to discovering or continuing this year. I hope this ballot will push me towards my goal of finally finishing up some series I’ve started and show me some new authors and creators I can follow in the future.
What do you think about the finalists? Did your nominees make it? Am I too touchy about Seanan McGuire? 🙂 Are you going to read the finalists and if yes, are you voting?
I’ve done five star predictions only once before but I liked it so much that I’m doing it again. It’s a great way to see not only how well I know myself and my reading tastes but also to check if those book blurbs and publisher promotions raise the right expectations.
Here are the books I intend to read this year and which I think will receive the highest rating. On my blog, that would be somewhere between 8 and 10 stars which translates to 5 stars on Goodreads. I am curious to see if my predictions hold up and if I even manage to read all the books on this list.
Fonda Lee – Jade Legacy
I’m starting with an easy one, the last part on the Green Bone Saga trilogy. I promised, this year, I’d be more adventureous with my predictions but you have to give me this one. I’m sure I will love it as much as the first two books in the series and I’m so excited to get back into the world of magical jade, feuding mafia clans, and great characters.
I’m very, very sure I will love this book and I trust Fonda Lee will deliver an amazing ending to this saga.
Hannah F. Whitten – For the Wolf
Here’s me being daring. This book sounds just up my alley, but you never really know before you read it. It has Red Riding Hood vibes, is recommended to fans of Uprooted and The Winternight Trilogy and those are all things I adore.
I have never read anything by Whitten before so the writing style and plot could still mess this one up. But I am optimistic and hoping to discover a new favorite.
Everina Maxwell – Winter’s Orbit
Another one that could go either way. Everything about this book sounds great, especially the “there’s only one bed” trope that keeps being mentioned on social media. An M/M romance in space that’s like if Anciallry Justice met Red White and Royal Blue. I can’t quite imagine what this will be like and it’s probably a book I either end up loving or hating, but I want to stay positive and hope for a five star read.
I also really like both the US and UK cover (this one is the UK version) and it gives me wonderful space opera vibes. Let’s make sure I read this when I’m in the right mood and then nothing can go wrong, right?
Vonda M. McIntyre – Dreamsnake
So far, these are all 2021 publications, but I don’t want to neglect my backlist TBR. Dreamsnake has been to-be-read for ages and while I’ve definitely encountered some less than great Hugo winners from the past, I think this one will work for me.
A dangerous quest in a far-future post-apocalyptic landscape with magical healing snakes? It sounds wild and I have never read anything by McIntyre before but here’s to hoping I didn’t completely misjudge my own reading tastes.
Catherynne M. Valente – The Past is Red
Oh look, it’s a new novella by my favorite author. I wonder if I’ll like it.
Okay, joking aside, even if this wasn’t written by Cat Valente, the premise sounds so good and the cover is so stunning that I am fully expecting this to get five stars. I mean, it’s set in a place called garbagetown, in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by climate change. That’s all I need to know really. And because this is a novella (so, probably short) and another safe choice, I’ll add a sixth book to my predictions list.
Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars
Okay, this is tagged as “a girl who risks her life for books” so what could possibly go wrong? There’s also an alien who loves forbidden pop music. That sounds so damn cute I want to read it right now!
Although the word this book is set in does not sound inviting – alien invasion, forbidden books and music – I think the premise has so much potential. Again, this is an author I don’t know yet but if it’s well written and tells a compelling story, I don’t see why this shouldn’t get five stars.
The fact that the cover is gorgeous also doesn’t hurt.
I did go for two easy choices but, just so you know I am restraining myself a little, I left off the next Murderbot novella, Rivers Solomon’s new novel Sorrowland, and the next instalment in Arkady Martine’s series – all of which I expect to love to pieces.
I’ll do my very best to read and review these books in 2021 so we can check back at the end of the year.
As you probably know, I love lists. I love following them, checking things off them, and boy do I love finishing them. Whether it’s To Do lists at work, tasks I have to do at home, or (of course) reading lists. I had great plans for the months of May and June, mostly consisting of lots of Hugo nominations and a few new releases here or there. But what does my brain want? Well… whatever it wants, apparently.
Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
For no reason I can discern, my eye fell on my bookshelf a few days ago and got stock on my Fables shelf. I’ve been reading this graphic novel series for years. It’s big! It’s finished, at least, but it’s still a looooong series and as much as I adored the first instalments, there was no way I could read them all in one go, especially since the editions I own weren’t even all published then. I had three of the deluxe volumes left (collecting three to four of the paperback volumes, which in turn collect several comic issues… yeah, it’s complicated; which is why I went for the rather expensive deluxe editions because they just collect everthing). By whim or fancy or whatever else, I picked up Volume 13 and I was BACK in that world and there were cliffhangers and twists and character deaths and there was no way for me to stop reading until I was done.
I feel a bit deflated now because finishing a series that long, leaving characters that have been in the back of my mind for many years, well, it’s a sad occasion. I was quite happy with how things turned out story-wise, but now… no more Fables. At least no more main-story Fables. I still have the Fairest spin-off series to read and a new Wolf Among Us game was announced, although we’ll probably have to wait at least another year for it to come out. But that’s something to look forward to, right?
Overall, I can recommend this series to anyone who loves comic books, fairy tales, and epic fantasy. Maybe one of these days, I’ll gather my thoughts enough to post a review of the entire series, although it will be one hell of a challenge to do that without spoilers.
Again, instead of following my own plan of getting the Hugo books read before anything else, I picked up some books by gut-feeling, just because I wanted to. My track record with finishing series I’ve started is generally not great, so I am mostly happy that I’ve decided to continue some of them before I forget what the first books were all about. But it does mean I’ll have less time to get to those Hugo finalists…
The Farthest Shore by Urusula K. LeGuin
I thought the Earthsea Cycle just wasn’t for me when I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. But then, on a re-read, I discovered new things about that book that I just couldn’t appreciate the first time around. I still didn’t love it but it was good enough for me to pick up the sequel. And that completely stole my heart! So of course, I had to continue reading. Again, the fact that the series is finished gave me the necessary push to finally catch up. I’m not as taken with this book as I was with The Tombs of Atuan but I still enjoy it a lot and I’ll probably dive straight into Tehanu once I’m finished.
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
I have yet to read a bad book by Jemisin (I doubt I ever will) but this is something else! Although very, very different from her epic fantasies, this books is just sooooo good, you guys! The city of New York comes to life but it’s too much to hold for one single person as its avatar, so every burrough gets its own avatar. Except they’re not entirely sure what to do with themselves and not each of them has all the puzzle pieces needed to fight the strange threat to their city. So they have to find each other and figure out where to go from there. There is a ton of social commentary here, there are fantastic, amazingly diverse characters, the writing is stellar, and I just can’t get enough of it. I already know this will be on my Hugo ballot for next year even though I’m only at about 60% right now.
Magician by Raymond E. Feist
This book (or technically the first half of this book) is the May pick for the Sword & Laser book club and while I’ve read the first half – Magician: Apprentice – many years ago, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to continue the series. But because my memory was hazy at best, I started from the beginning. I am now smack dab in the middle of the book, my re-read of the first half is done and now I only have new stuff ahead of me. Magician has a ton of flaws but it also offers comfort in these trying times. It may not be original, but it is kind of nice to read about humans, elves, dwarves, and trolls in a medieval Europe-ish setting. There’s nothing new here, no fantasy species I have to learn about, no interesting power dynamics, no difficult politics… it’s just two boys having the adventure of their life. There’s an alien invasion, war, learning magic, and potential romance. Look, this won’t end up being a favorite and you’ll hear all my gripes in my review, but I’m enjoying it anyways.
Plan to read next
In my last post, I had a whole plan. I started only one of those planned books (the only one not currently nominated for awards or sent to me for review…). The same thing will probably happen again this time, but I will do my best to somewhat stick to it, at least.
Emma Newman – Planetfall (series finalist)
Tade Thompson – Rosewater (series finalist)
Martha Wells – Network Effect (new release)
Ted Chiang – Exhalation (novella and novelette finalists)
Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (Lodestar finalist)
Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (novella finalist)
Okay, I should manage reading some of those Hugo finalists in the next few weeks, right? Except, we all know I will pick up the long-awaited Murderbot novel before anything else… because who can resist Murderbot, especially now that another novel has been announced. I am so excited!
If I only read some of those planned books, I will count it as a victory. Having finished all the finalists in the Best Novel category, a large chunk of reading is done. The novellas, novelettes, and short stories are all shorter so I’m sure I can finish all of them as well. However, the Lodestars have a couple of big books that are nominated, and let’s not even talk about the Best Series shortlist.
I hope all of you are healthy and well, wherever in the world you are! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll all get through this together! And until then, pick up a good book or two to distract yourself from this very real-life pandemic.
This post is way less dramatic than it sounds, I promise. As I’ve been publishing three posts per week for the last month or so in order to do my small part in keeping you dear readers entertained, I have actually reached the end of the review wait queue. There is one review of Kathleen Jenning’s Flyaway scheduled for July (it was great and you should buy it if you like your stories gothic, weird, and atmospheric) but other than that, I’m all out of reviews.
But so you know what’s coming up next, as soon as I finish reading them, here are my current reads and the books I intend to pick up next.
Mark Lawerence – Red Sister
This is Booktube’s fault. Everybody there seems to love and admire The Book of the Ancestor, especially people who love Brandon Sanderson’s books. So I thought I’d finally give it a try and see if the fuss is justified. I’m 75% done with this and while the beginning was very strong and the ideas super interesting, nothing much has happened for quite a while now. Sure, we learn teeny tiny bits about the world and the characters, but compared to how amazing the beginning was, I’m a bit disappointed. But, let’s not judge the book before knowing the ending. For all I know, it might be mind-blowing.
Charlie Jane Anders – The City in the Middle of the Night
This is the last book I need to read for the Hugo Award Best Novel category. I’m almost halfway done and I’m still waiting for the book to connect with me. There are interesting ideas, flawed yet intriguing characters, but somehow I’m missing that spark. I expected to love this so I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. But there’s still a bit more than half the book left – we’ll see if it can conquer my heart yet.
Raymond E. Feist – Magician
I didn’t think I’d ever pick this book or this series up again. I read the first half of the first book as a teenager (the paperback is split into two for the US edition – Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master) and while I liked it, I never continued the series. However, it is the May book pick for the Sword and Laser Podcast and so I took this as an opportunity to re-read the part I’d read before and then add the “Master” part of the book as well.
It’s incredibly generic fantasy but knowing what you’re going to get is pretty comforting right now. I’m not even a third done with this and it will probably still be a while. This chonker has over 800 pages.
Next in the Reading Queue
These are the book babies that I will probably pick up next, right after I’m finished with the ones listed above.
For the Hugo Awards:
Tade Thompson – Rosewater (for Best Series)
Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (for Best Novella)
As I’ll be away for a few weeks – escaping to a sunny hot place from the icy winter here – I prepared a handful of posts to bridge the time until my return. This is one I’m actually very excited for. I have discovered it through youtube where people wrapped up their 2019 Five Star Predictions and while I haven’t found the creator of the tag, I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about.
Here are the books I intend to read this year and of which I think I’ll be giving them the highest rating. On my blog, that would be somewhere between 8 and 10 stars which translates to 5 stars on Goodreads. I am curious to see if my predictions hold up and if I even manage to read all the books on this list.
Marlon James – Black Leopard, Red Wolf
This book has been on my TBR ever since it was published but the sheer size of it and the reviews I’ve read always made me put off reading it. I don’t expect the language to be easy, I think the plot structure will be rather complex, and I think it will take me a while to finish this book. But those are all things that I love. If the characters are great as well, I’m pretty sure this will end up as a new favorite.
Laini Taylor – Muse of Nightmares
This is a book I specifically saved up so I can read it when I most need something great. I adored everything about the first book in the duology and I have no doubt that I will love this one as well. Taylor’s prose is just beautiful, I already love the characters, and even if the plot doesn’t end up the way I want it to, I don’t think this would drag my rating down a lot. So yeah, this is the one book on this list I’m most certain will end up a five star read.
Mishell Baker – Impostor Syndrome
This being the third book in a trilogy where I loved both the first and the second novel, it’s a pretty safe bet that I will love this too. Mishell Baker’s Arcadia Project series has so much going for it on the surface, but it was the writing style that really drew me in. A great premise is one thing (many books have excellent premises) but when the execution works so damn well that I just can’t put the novel down, then the author did something right. It also helps that I love the flawed, multi-layered protagonist and that she’s definitely not your average Urban Fantasy heroine.
Rivers Solomon – An Unkindness of Ghosts
This is where it gets a bit tricky. I think I will love this book, based on everything I’ve heard about it. But I also believe it has the potential to go completely the other way. Of course I’m hoping that I will end up loving it but that’s how it is with books – you never know. Something everyone else seems to like may end up being a book I hate. But I have a good feeling about this one and can’t wait to find out if I’m right.
So here they are. My five star predictions for the year 2020. We’ll check back at the end of the year to see how well I know my own reading tastes or whether I’ve been mislead by cover blurbs, synopses and book reviews. 🙂
December has arrived and with it the time where crazy book people like me get super stressed out about all the books we still want to read before the year is over. As ridiculous as this self-imposed “deadline” is, I can’t deny that I feel the urge to finish all my current reads and start the new year with a clean slate. So here are the books I’m currently reading and the ones I still want to cram into December somehow. It’s not going to be easy with the holidays, family visits, buying presents, and probably also spending a lot of time at work. But holidays and travel also means more reading time, and I look forward to cozying up with a blanket, a cup of tea, some cookies, and of course excellent books.
I absolutely have to finish these books because all of them count toward the 2019 Retellings Challenge. I started out with the humble goal of reading 6-10 books for that challenge but now my bingo card is almost full. And I can’t very well leave it this way, right? Ambition holds me firmly in its grasp and I am determined to finish that challenge!
Joan D. Vinge – The Snow Queen
This was a book pick for the Sword & Laser podcast. It’s a Snow Queen retelling set in space and while I enjoy the book as long as I read it, whenever I put it down, I don’t feel a particular need to pick it back up again. So it’s not bad but I just need to give myself a little push to pick it up again and finally finish it. Status: 43% read
Marion Zimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon
This was a recommendation here in the comments (thanks again!) and I have been reading this book for a while. Again, I enjoy it, but at almost 1000 pages, it’s quite chunky. It tells the story of King Arthur from the women’s point of view and I love how women are definitely the protagonists in this story, but they’re not all equally likeable. I’ve also been told that the last part has more action and even a plot twist, so I’m confident I’ll finish this beast before the year is over. Status: 76% read
Lisa Mantchev – Eyes Like Stars
I picked this up on the one hand because it fits into the “Shakespeare retelling” slot of my challenge, and on the other hand because this book (and the entire trilogy) were nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. I’m not sure whether I like it yet but it is a quick read that I’m sure I’ll finish within the next few days. Status: 68% read
Still to read
There are a many books I’d still love to read this year, but because some of them are quite big, I tried to keep my TBR realistic.
Esther Dalseno – Drown
A Little Mermaid retelling by an indie author for – you guessed it – my Retellings Challenge. I’ve actually had my eye on that book before I knew about the challenge so I’m excited to read it. It sounds dark and twisty.
Julia Ember – The Seafarer’s Kiss
I need to read a retelling with a weapon on the cover and this book has been on my radar for a long time. I may change the book because I have two Little Mermaid retellings lined up and I’m not sure I’m up for that, even though this one is a lesbian retelling. But unless I find something that I’m more excited about, this is the book I’m going for.
I’m pretty sure I can manage to read those books and still have time to start another. Whether that will be the rather big but hopefully fantastic Black Leopard, Red Wolfby Marlon James or the horror novel The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, I don’t know yet. Of course, there’s also Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater and The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders calling my name. Not to mention Starsight by Brandon Sanderson. You see why reading can be stressful sometimes, but I think whichever book I’ll pick as my very last read of 2019, I’ll take it easy. No worrying about challenges, no stressing about deadlines, no pressure whatsoever.
2019 has been a fantastic reading year for me. I’ll post my favorite books of 2019, my challenge wrap-ups, and my most anticipated releases of 2020 in the next few weeks. If you have recommendations or think I should prioritize one of the books mentioned above, let me know in the comments!
Hello, faithful followers and readers of this blog (and also people who just stumbled onto this page by accident). I have been so good with posting regularly this year, but after two crazy reading months, I have hit… not quite a slump, but definitely a time where I’m going a little easier on myself.
Lately, I had a lot of other things to do that put my reading plans in the background. Friends got married, others celebrated their birthdays, I went on a trip to Paris and Disneyland (it was amazing!), my sister got engaged and I will be her maid of honor (yay!) – so there has just been a lot on my plate. All of these things are wonderful and I don’t regret spending my time with friends and family but that’s why I haven’t been posting as regularly lately. I haven’t stopped reading altogether of course. Here’s what I’ve been up to plus some more books I want to start soon.
Unfortunately, two of my current reads are books with a massive hype, and so far, neither can quite live up to what was promised. The first was one of my most anticipated publications of the year, The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. I loved, loved, loved her Hugo-winning short story and I really like Alix’s online presence in general. The way her book was hyped once it hit the shelves made me expect a new favorite. The language is gorgeous, no doubt, but I can’t help feeling like I see through it, if you know what I mean. There are beautiful descriptions, lush prose, but every pretty line I read, I keep thinking: I see what the author is trying to do. It’s still beautiful but it just doesn’t feel as organic as, say, Cat Valente’s style. The plot itself is also a bit of a disappointment. Of course I knew we wouldn’t actually step through ten thousand doors with the protagonist, but the plot and the characters all feel kind of distant to me. I have put the book aside for now and I hope I’ll enjoy it more when I go back to it.
The second overhyped book – for which I still have hope, however – is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This is another book where people seem to love the idea of the plot more than the actual thing. I admit “lesbian necromancers in space” does sound pretty awesome! Last week, I hit the 40% mark and FINALLY, the plot is kicking off. The entire first third of the book was thin world building and no plot to speak of. What kept me going was the protagonist Gideon, who was fun to follow from the start. Now that I can finally see what the story might actually be about, I am quite eager to keep reading. I hope all the reviewers were right and the story gets going in the second half.
My third book is quite nice so far, but also not as gripping as I’d like. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow reads way more like a YA book than I expected. I don’t know if I just missed the info that it was a YA book or if it’s simply the writing style, but while I like the protagonist and the plot so far, I haven’t been hooked yet. The plot seems quite simplistic but I think it could turn out to be a lot of fun. I definitely enjoy the setting and the fact that this book involves mythology you don’t see too often. Greek, Norse, and Egyptian gods are well-represented in SFF fiction, but Aztec or Native American myths aren’t something I’ve come across that often.
For the 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge I am reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust and this is also pretty good but missing something to totally grab me and make me want to drop everything to go read. It’s a Snow White retelling, all the main characters are women so far, and there is a kind of magic involved that makes me very curious where the tale is going. The evil stepmother doesn’t seem quite evil (manipulative, sure, but her reasons are understandable) and Snow White appears to be developing a crush on a female friend. I am having a lot of fun with this retelling so far and I look forward to finding out if poisoned apples make an appearance.
And, because it was recommended to me in the comments, I finally started reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This also fits into my 2019 Retellings Challenge for the prompt “read a book longer than 500 pages” – at over 900 pages, it’s a chunky tome!
I had no idea I was in the right mood for it, but this is the book I’m currently enjoying the most, even though the plot is slow-moving so far. I just really enjoy the atmosphere and the conflict between old faith and Christianity. I also believe I’ve never a King Arthur retelling… ever. So the book has that going for it as well. The fact that it’s misty outside and this goes perfectly well with the book is just an added bonus. 🙂
A Spooky Mini-TBR
Because it’s October and today is particularly foggy here in Vienna, I want to read something spooky before the month is over. With the books listed above I technically have enough on my plate, but I so want to read these two creepy books:
Shirley Jackson – The Lottery and Other Stories
I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle to pieces! And The Haunting of Hill House gave me serious nightmares. While it may not be great for my sleep, I have heard that “The Lottery” is supposed to be the best thing Jackson has ever written. So even if I don’t read the entire collection, I definitely want to tackle that story.
Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
It’s right there in the title. Helen Oyeyemi has a particular writing style that I just enjoy. I’m sure she isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that she is a master of creating atmosphere, so I can’t wait to see how she tells a haunted house story with witches.
And once October is over, I move straight into the Triwizard Tournament Readathon! I cannot wait to see which prompts I have to fulfill and whether I stick to my TBR.
My pretty consistent schedule of posting reviews has been interrupted lately, not because I haven’t been reading but because spring is here and with it nice weather, outdoorsy things, meeting with friends, getting exercise in the fresh air and all that good stuff. So I have read less than in the first three months of 2019 but I have by no means stopped. Reviews are in the making, I’m catching up on some Hugo reading (more on that later) and generally enjoying hobbies other than reading. I will try to post one review per week again soon, but for now, the sunshine and my new running pants pretty much own me.
I only finished one recently that I haven’t told you about yet. It is The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – a wonderful, mythical, and powerful story about Fatima, a young courtesan in soon-to-be-conquered Spain, and her best friend Hassan, who has a magical gift with mapmaking. There are djinn and mythical tales, islands that don’t exist, the Spanish Inquisition, love and betrayal – and despite that it’s a very quiet book that touched me more with the character development than with action. I loved it to pieces and highly recommend it to!
I am being a good girl and reading one book for my Retellings Challenge, one book for the Hugo Awards and one simply because it’s long overdue and I finally want to read everyone’s thoughts on it without fear of spoilers.
Brianna R. Shrum’s Never Never retells the Peter Pan story from the point of view of Captain Hook. We meet young James when he is still a boy, spirited away to Neverland by Peter Pan himself. Unable to find his own way back home, James grows into the Captain Hook we all know. I enjoy the writing style but I’m almost three quarters done with this book and there still isn’t much of a plot. In a retelling, I always hope for a little something more than just the story I already know. It’s an okay read so far and I honestly doubt the ending will surprise me, but we’ll see.
As she is nominated for the Not-a-Hugo Award for Best New Writer, I am finally reading The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. Now this book is a total hit so far. I am still very confused about djinn politics and social structures, but I love all the characters, I want to learn so much more about this world, and there hasn’t been a single page that wasn’t exciting in a way. I’m glad I’m reading this although it will make my choice on the ballot much harder.
My third book – and one that will likely be with me for a while longer – is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. As you may know, I like “reading” his books (whenever possible) in Graphic Audio format. Which is why I wait almost a year until after publication to finally read the latest book in the Stormlight Archive. It’s another great one but I’m sure Sanderson kept the best, most epic bits for last. I am almost halfway through this book but half a book with Sanderson is two novels for other writers.. so it will take me a bit longer to finish this.
I don’t have any particular plans, but I do want to keep up my Hugo reading. I nominated my favorite books of 2018, the finalists have been announced, so now I have lists of stuff I still need to read and watch in order to make an informed decision once voting time arrives.
Either I’ll go with Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few next or Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem – the third book in that trilogy is nominated but I have only read the first, so I need to catch up quickly.
For the Lodestar nominees (the newish YA Not-a-Hugo), I’m really looking forward to Tess of the Road. I have only read one of the nominated works which makes me rather anxious. Then again, having too many great books lined up is not really something I should complain about.
And just so I don’t lose sight of books for the Retellings Challenge, I may finally start Circe by Madeline Miller or finish the Winternight Trilogy with Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch.
I am so happy I found the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge! I have been reading and reviewing books for this challenge since January and have discovered so many new authors, books, and bloggers.
Normally, I am super motivated to read all the books for a challenge right away but then I lose interest. Not so with this challenge! Because the goal isn’t to read one type of book or genre but simply to take a closer look at the authors and books you want to read anyway. Turns out – and I’m sure this is true for most people with a big TBR – I didn’t even have to buy new books for this challenge (although I did anyway) because many of my unread books were written by marginalised authors and featured diverse characters. And because the experience has been so much fun, I wanted to share the books I’ve read for the challenge and the books I have lined up for the next few months with you guys. May your wishlists grow.
What I’ve read so far
I have read a total of 16 books in 2017 so far, five of which were written by LGBTQI authors and/or featured LGBTQI characters. Five books were written by Authors of Color and/or featured POC main characters. Two books had protagonists with a disability, and five were #ownvoices books.
There was oviously quite a bit of overlap and in reality, I read only 10 books for this challenge so far. But 10 out of 16 is a pretty amazing ratio if you ask me.
And for anyone who believes that I am changing my reading habits or forcing myself to read certain books for the sake of diversity, I can only say that all of these books (except for Peter Darling which I discovered through the challenge) were already on my TBR and I would have read them anyway. The Read Diverse 2017 challenge only pushed them a bit further up on my TBR pile, that’s all.
Here are my diverse reads so far, all of which I would recommend. My full reviews can be found behind the links.
Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
A short story collection retelling fairy tales, most of which feature lesbian protagonists, and all of which focus on women.
Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost
This book is a wonderful story about a young girl, dealing with her cultural heritage, her place in her family and witchcraft. After messing things up she tries to fix her dire situation. Incudes a trip to the underworld with a fantastic bisexual protagonist.
Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows
Not so much a heist story as a character study of six amazing, diverse, and absolutely lovable protagonists. Kaz is disabled and walks with a cane, Inej is dark-skinned, and I suspect (though don’t know yet) that at least one character is gay. I loved all of them!
Mishell Baker – Borderline
This is such an amazing book. Millie is a double amputee after her attempted suicide who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She also starts to work for the secret Arcadia Project which polices the traffic between our world and Fairyland. And it’s set in Hollywood. Everything about this book was perfect.
S. L. Huang – The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist
A retelling of The Little Mermaid that gets really dark and broke my heart into a million pieces. The protagonist is a lesbian who falls in love with a “mermaid” and trades her voice for fins. But trust me, it’s much better and more sinister than I make it sound.
Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
A story collection by the brilliant Helen Oyeyemi that features a diverse cast of characters, most of all highlighting women. I didn’t love all the stories but the collection overall was solid.
Marissa Meyer – Wires and Nerve
Meyer’s first graphic novel, set after the Lunar Chronicles, finally gives Iko her own story. The protagonist android loves her body (which is a Woman of Color) and she deals with questions of identity, feelings, and friendship. It’s a lovely, quick comfort read and I need the sequel now!
Catherynne M. Valente – Palimpsest
Valente’s characters in this book may not all be bisexual, but pretty much everyone sleeps with everyone in this luscious tale of a sexually transmitted city. There are no graphic or particularly steamy sex scenes here, but instead there are breathtaking descriptions of Palimpsest. The language and imagery are stunning, but you should like flowery prose if you pick this up.
Austin Chant – Peter Darling
What if Peter Pan grew up as Wendy Darling? In this very short novel, Peter is a transgender man who comes back to Neverland as an adult. To my utter delight, he and Hook fall in love. I had some problems with this book (there was just not enough of it) but overall, I enjoyed it.
Nnedi Okorafor – Binti: Home
I adored Okorafor’s Binti and couldn’t wait for this sequel. Binti, who has run away from home to study at a university far away from her home planet, has returned. She has to deal with her own identity, her past, her family’s culture and the life she wants for herself. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it ends on a pretty mean cliffhanger. Review to come.
What’s on my TBR
I have SO MANY BOOKS! Seriously, there is no shortage of diverse books in my home, but I do have a few lined up that I want to read very soon.
Yoon Ha Lee – Ninefox Gambit
I’m already reading this and as much as the beginning tried to break my brain, I am completely in love with it now and can’t wait to find out how the story continues. If you start reading this, please don’t give up. Push through the first chapters and you will be rewarded!
S. Jae-Jones – Wintersong I am not sure if I will finish this book. I read half of it and it’s a huge disappointment. A whiny heroine who wallows in self-pity, a bland “romance”, and no plot to speak of. Maybe I’ll write something even if I DNF this book… we’ll see. For now, it’s on hiatus.
Heidi Heilig – The Girl From Everywhere This book just sounds soooo good. Time travel, maps, a biracial protagonist, a romance, and ships! Plus, the sequel is out already (I think), so if I love it I won’t have to wait for the next book.
N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate I actually saved this book up because I know it will ruin any book that is unfortunate enough to follow it. Jemisin is a phenomenal writer and this world is her most complex and ambitious yet. The cast ist effortlessly diverse and Jemisin’s writing is always stunning.
Rhoda Belleza – Empress of a Thousand Skies I’m a bit on the fence about this but people have said it has lots of diverse characters and a fast-moving plot. So I hope this book leaves away all the YA tropes and delivers an exciting space adventure.
Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles I’ve wanted to read this for ages but somehow, every time I choose a new book to read this one slips my mind. Must remember this time.
Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – Dragon Soul I love this series so much! The first book told (among other plot lines) a beautiful romance between two very different men, and all the characters are superb. Can’t wait to continue reading about this world of steampunk dragons, and the crazy people who fly them.
Caitlín R. Kiernan – Agents of Dreamland I love everything Kiernan writes and most things Tor.com publishes, so this is a book that is practically a guaranteed hit.
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
I am SO behind on this series. The first book was my favorite the year it came out but then I never caught up with the sequels. It’s time to rectify that situation! If you don’t know this series, it’s about a former space ship AI, now existing in one human body, who uses all-female pronouns because it’s an AI and doesn’t know or care about gender. Also, it’s a super exciting space adventure with amazing characters.
The way I know myself, this reading plan will probably be thrown away pretty fast, especially with the amount of exciting recommendations this reading challenge produces. But then, I read for fun. So I’ll do my best to stick by this TBR but if I stray, so be it. 🙂