I’ve been absent from this here blog for a couple of months. I can only tell you that life is full of hijinks and mundanity and all of it takes up time. I suppose technically I could tell you more but it's really not all that interesting from a blogging standpoint. But I have a plan, of sorts, to keep things bloggity rolling in here a little more regularly. On the non-bloggity life side of things, I have been writing, and dancing, and doing the things that need doing. Such is life.
I have a Sort-of Sekrit project I’m working on that will be revealed Real Soon Now (TM). It involves several people, and a lot of planning, and some dorking out about random stuff, and it should be a lot of fun. With any luck, we won’t be the only ones who think so.
But for today’s post, I think I will talk about books I’ve been reading over the last couple of months.
I am a voracious reader. Yes, yes, many writers are. I am not special in that regard. But as it’s winter, I’ve also been hiding out a little when things get too full of stuff, or stuff gets too full of things, because that’s the way I stay sane. Mostly I read books in my own personal cat-and-blanket fort when this happens. Oh, let’s be honest. I’ll do that just as easily when I’m not overwhelmed as when I am. But when overwhelmingness happens, it’s extremely likely to find me curled up with cats and blankets, seriously not hearing a word anyone says, hey this book is good. So I thought, well, why not post about a few books I’ve been reading lately. Note: this is not all of the books I’ve read recently. I don’t have that kind of time, to talk about all of them. But I feel like highlighting a few is a good idea. (I also will write up some reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads, because that’s how you help a writer’s career, other than buying their books.) Here, in no particular order, are some of the books I've read recently. They are all fantastic and I highly recommend any and all of them, and other books by these authors.
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older - excellent YA urban fantasy. Great characters and a lot of action. Go for the zombies and sarcasm, stay for the super-cool magic. Or vice-versa, whatever floats your boat. Here are kids being realistically kids in a very real Brooklyn background, while magic and family and magical family type stuff is all going down. The main character is kickass. Also this is a very thorough takedown of gentrification and white-savior-ism. I loved it, and I've loved his other books as well. I'm about to read his next one. Highly recommend.
The Bollywood Bride, by Sonali Dev - Contemporary romance. (In case you didn't know, I read a lot of romance. I read it because it is good and fun and people get HEAs (that's Happily Ever Afters, for those of you who are not in the know) and who doesn't love a little angst where people get HEA at the end of it? And so much if it is so well written, and human relationships are important to everyone's life. So if you were feeling snobbishly above icky girl stuff, you are wrong and confused.) Anyway, I honestly could not put this one down. These characters are loveable and flawed and I heart the precious, precious cinnamon roll of the hero, and I want to hug the protag until all the hurt is gone. Young love parted, people trying to save one another but getting it wrong, lovely family stuff. Fantastic romance, will read again.
Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson - I guess this is a sort of memoir? Ish? If you follow The Bloggess, you know what it is, and you've probably read it. It's heartwarming, funny, and it makes me feel way less alone in my weirdness. My weirdness is not the same as Jenny's, but that doesn't mean it doesn't crosshatch over. If you want to take a look at a woman who's making her illness and her difficulties work for her instead of against, at least as much as is possible, read this book.
Level Up: A Geek Romance, by Cathy Yardley - Contemp romance - OMG THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I'm not even the same kind of geek as these people, and it felt so at home. If you like geeks, romances, people who work too hard, people who have trouble relating to people, and people fighting for - and winning! - equal treatment stories, this book is for you. If you like to heart characters and cheer them on, this book is for you. Seriously, I love it so much. Another I will definitely read again.
Indexing: Reflections, by Seanan McGuire - Urban-ish fantasy. The tag line for this series is '“Never underestimate the power of a good story.” Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.' I'm not sure how to categorize it, but if you love Seanan McGuire stuff (and I do), then you'll like these. It's a Kindle Serial, but both full, uh, seasons? are out now, so you can get both books, but only on ebook from Amazon. When fairy tales take over everyone's lives, basically. What happens if the story decides you're the evil step sister, even if you don't want to be? Our ATI Management Bureau team may be your only hope. Full of typical McGuire characters who swear and bleed A LOT and get shit done whether the world is working for them or not. Frequently not. Damn it, world. (I feel like that's something all McGuire characters would say.)
Once Upon a Marquess, by Courtney Milan - Historical romance. I heart Courtney Milan so much! I read all of her books, and I can't wait for more. Her characters are the best. This one is no exception. I love a romance between people who used to love or be friends, but who have parted, and slowly find their way back again. Slow build to trust is my catnip. Also I love terrible puns, and this is chalk-full of them. Go read.
Lord Dashwood Missed Out, by Tessa Dare - Historical romance. Tessa Dare is one of my very favorite authors. If you've ever read any of her Spindle Cove books (which you absolutely should! They are so much fun!) then some characters here will be familiar to you. Here's another couple who used to be friends, but Lord Dashwood, well, he missed out. He lives to regret it. :D It's a novella length, I think. The protag is a woman who writes with passion and determination and wants to have a real career, even though she's (gasp) a woman! Yay! Tessa Dare is wonderful and you should buy her stuff.
Act Like It, by Lucy Parker - Contemp romance set in England. This book is adorable and fun with a lot of hidden depth. A fake romance turns to a real one - always a good time. The writing is great, and the characters are very real and endearing. I really liked the - again - slow build from animosity to trust. Yes, OK, that's a big romance trope, but there's a reason it works. When it's well-written, as this one is.
Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell - YA fantasy. Oh, man, this book is such a GIFT! I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! It's the best novel that got started as pretend fan fiction of a pretend novel inside of another novel in the history of ever! (It's also possibly the only novel started that way, but I do not judge, I only marvel.) If you love Rainbow Rowell, you probably read Fangirl, which was a fantastic book, in which the main character is writing fan fiction for the Simon Snow books, (loose stand-in for Harry Potter). Then Rainbow Rowell thought about what the Simon Snow story would be like if she actually, you know, wrote it. So she decided to do that. The book Carry On is not the story from the fan fiction, or the story that the fan fiction was based on, but her own rendering of what if she wrote a book about a magic school in England. I don't know what to tell you but that these characters, man. They are amazing. I can't fall in love any harder. Now I want to read this again. If you've ever loved a reluctant, eager to please, confused young hero, a not-so-villainous villain, or girls who refuse to be pigeon-holed no matter their parent's, society's, or whomever's wishes, then you will love this too. READ IT. If you do not end up falling absolutely in swoony love I will be surprised.
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie - Science Fiction. This is the final book in the Imperial Radch trilogy. I think this series might be my new SF fave. I unabashedly love Breq. I love a main character who has to push boundaries, who keeps going after being brutally thwarted again and again. (Note: I do not want to BE that person. I would definitely not love to be brutally thwarted, please and thanks. But I can ADMIRE it from afiction.) (afiction as opposed to afar. harhar.) This series is brilliant and brilliantly written and I will nominate it for all the awards. Seriously, it's the best. I know some people who were put off by the disaffectedness of the main character in the beginning of the first book, which is fair. But she's, y'know, a spaceship. A person who is a ship, who is no longer a ship for reasons, and she has to figure out how to manage the impossible and also feel and not feel. Jesus, it's so good.
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, by Christine Hepperman - Poetry, I would call it feminist poetry, using fairy tale tropes. Lovely, haunting, and pointed. I'm happy I got the physical book, so I can put it with my other poetry.
The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renée Ahdieh - YA high fantasy, set over the 1001 Arabian Nights stories. This book is amazing. I absolutely love it. I found the main character to be fantastically compelling, and the storyline is certainly a fresh take for this. What if the monster was forced into monstrousness? Does that excuse it? And who doesn't love a determined, impetuous, smart, kick-ass young woman? Well, I love her. I can't wait for the next book.
Go ye forth and read. I sure am. My TBR pile is ridiculous. Just the way I like it!
Title is from "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles.