On the heels of doing research for my list of 50+ Black horror authors, I’ve found several titles that I’m howling at the moon for this Horror Season. Black writers are often not thought of when we speak of genre fiction, but it’s past time to put a stake in that idea and lay it to eternal rest. So, lets take a look at some books that I want to send chills down my spine.
October has hit the calendar, and for many of us, that means scary reads, chilly nights, and the warmth of pumpkin drinks to keep our bones from rattling.
Now, I’m not one for pumpkin drinks (the seasonal sacrilege, I know) but I do know a thing or two about getting into the Halloween Spirit. This little scribble is going to be about the reads of the season and some thoughts about October’s spooky plans.
Welcome back fellow readers. Today, we’ve got a fun (belated) look at last month’s Popculture Readathon, a 90’s movie inspired readathon that was hosted by Whitney from Bookswhitme and Lorryn from Readingparental There were four bingo boards and choose from, of which could read prompts from one, multiple, or all to eventually get bingo.
Now, my track record for readathons has been mentioned before. I historically don’t manage to finish them out (the curse of being a perpetual mood reader.) So… How did I fare? Did I hit bingo? Black out the board?
Happy Monday, Readers. Welcome to the first Weekday Scribbles post—a casual look at what we’re reading, some one-off thoughts and commentary on book-world happenings, and chatter about interesting bookish discoveries. This last week I’ve been branching out my reading, finding new favorites, and enjoying browsing through some other creative, bookish content that merits sharing.
January was a busy work month as it usually is (which is part of the reason this wrap-up is coming so late, but we don’t need to get into that.) However, I got in a few stellar reads during the month, including:
Some New Faves
Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across: A heart-tugging, emotional rollercoaster of a poetry collection by artist Mary Lambert. The concept of being seen in a piece of fiction was one that was really strong for me in reading this collection.
The Willies: A strikingly honest examination of queerness and whiteness told through the poetry of Adam Falker, which I was lucky enough to snag as an ARC off of NetGalley.
Adam Bomb: A slow-burn of friends to lovers romance by seasoned romance novelist Kilby Blades that had me turning every page as quickly as I could read.
A New Classic
The Picture of Dorian Gray: While not my favorite classic thus far, I genuinely loved the lush prose of Oscar Wilde and the decadent descent of Dorian Gray that The Picture of Dorian Gray was. Bonus points for classic queer reads.
Under the Udala Trees: A historical fiction set during and after the Biafran war in Nigeria, Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta has already stabbed me in the heart at least twice, and I’m only on chapter eight as of writing this wrap-up.
The Water Dancer: Another historical fiction with lilts of magical realism, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates was a read from last month’s January selection for the Pages & Prose Book Club. My not finishing it legitimately stings; the first chapter alone is lushly terrifying; Coates’ writing is phenomenal and I’m excited with February being a slow month for me, because it means I’ll have time to really savor it.
Six months have come and gone, meaning we’re halfway through the year and I’m mildly panicking about being behind on my Goodreads challenge by about six books.
Did I say panicking? I meant I’m definitely on top of and in control of my reading promises.
On the plus side, no matter how behind I am, I’ve read some amazing books so far this year, so grab a snack because this post is long.
April was another month where I didn’t get a lot of reading done, but the reading that I did get done/started gave me some pretty amazing books, and the promise of continuing into some great reads for this month.
Books I Read
For Blood & Glory and Static Shock: Supercharged Vol. 1
For Blood & Glory is an urban fantasy by indie author Cassandra A. Hendricks. As her debut, I was really impressed with what she managed to do with bringing a new, vibrant take on the supernatural to YA. I have my general review up on Goodreads.
The next book I managed to finish last month was the first volume of the now-discontinued New 52 Static Shock, and I Have So Many Thoughts. Namely, that this comic shouldn’t have been cancelled, and DC made a huge mistake. I also have a general review of it up on Goodreads and will be talking about this issue, as well as For Blood & Glory, later this month.
Books I Started
I front loaded the end of my month with three behemoths: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, and Battle Royale by Koushun Tamaki with translations by Nathan Collins.
And holy shit.
I think these three books are going to be emblematic of memorable reading experiences. I’ve already finished the first section of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, and I’ve been blown away. Similarly, I’m about as deep in with The Fifth Season, and I’m not sure which I’m enjoying more. They’re both breathtakingly unique pieces of fiction, and I’m not sure there’s going to be fantasy quite like what James and Jemisin have created for a long time.
As for Battle Royale, if you’re familiar with Japanese literature, you’ll know that it’s been referred to as the precursor/narrative parent of The Hunger Games, exploring similar themes with a similar premise. This will be my first time reading it after hearing so much about it, and I’m jazzed to get into it deep.
Possible May TBR
While I’m not one to actually create, let alone commit to, a TBR list, I’ll obviously be finishing the books that I started last month. On top of those, I’ll (possibly) be reading through the recent release from Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kauffman, Aurora Rising, as well as finishing the Illuminae series in preparation for getting my hands on Memento.
I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to review what’s easily been one of my favorite science fiction novels, but I never claimed to be good at blogging.
Illuminae… where do I start? Illuminae surprised me in ways I haven’t been with YA in a long time. When I say that I pulled an all-nighter to finish this book, I honestly mean it. I devoured each and every inky page, sometimes furiously, others with my heart ready to straight up vacate my chest in the span of a night. This was a high-octane, emotional novel and it’s been more than a month since I read it and I’m still not over it.
Let’s talk about this masterpiece by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman.
Soo, let’s get it out there quick that I did not read a lot in March. The TL;DR is that I was sick for a majority of it, so that hurt my reading more than helped it.
C’est la vie.
I did, however, get through a couple of things, and what I did read in March made me very, very happy.
Books I Finished
The one book at I actually finished this month was also one of my most anticipated books for this year, written by my best friend, Caitlin Lochner. I’ll be talking about it more later this month, but suffice to say if you’re looking for an exciting YA in the vein of The Hunger Games with X-Men vibes, you should definitely take a look into it. I’m just saying. The main characters, Lai and Jay, are two of my favorite, and the casual representation throughout the book is perfection.
Books I Started
So Her Infernal Descent is technically a roll over from last month, but I’m counting it here since it’s an on-going read of mine. I decided to poke through my shelves and backlogged TBR and that’s when I realized that I had yet to start on my New 52 Static Shock, and that Battle Royale has been collecting dust on my shelf since the dawn of time.
I intend to finish the books that I started this month (and possibly get a little bit ahead in my Goodreads book challenge since I had been ahead of my goal by… five books?) and possibly crack open a couple of the hard backs that I’d hauled at the start of March–I have Swing Time by Zadie Smith and The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton collecting dust on my shelf, so those are good contenders for a fresh read.
Here’s to a (better) readerly month, friends.
Whether we intentionally do it or not, we look for ourselves in media. It’s a natural thing to want to see your experiences reflected in what you consume. The caveat with that is, for as many people that share your exact experiences, there are that many people who’ve had different experiences with the same thing. When we come across stories that echo our experiences but don’t quite hit the mark, it’s hard to figure out if it’s a bad thing, or if it’s just a different thing.
My idea of poetry stems largely from high school English class, sloughing through sonnets and unpleasantly dense prose. When I picked up Sparks of Phoenix it was in an exercise to see if I could break the preconception that required reading had instilled in me about poetry, poets, and what a person could take away from a collection of poetry.
I was not disappointed.
Let’s take a look at Sparks of Phoenix, by Najwa Zebian.
So despite having read basically nothing in January, I hit my stride this month with a nice selection of books that I was ecstatic to get through. I don’t think I’ve had a month in recent years that the reading left me feeling this content and fulfilled.
Books I Finished
This month was a good one for my reading. I got through four novels, two graphic novels, a poetry collection, and a novella. The real heavy hitter this month was Illuminae, sitting at over 600 pages of raw science fiction goodness, followed by Drops of Cerulean which decimated my heart.
I think the thing that I enjoyed the most this month about what I read was the variety in what I read, not just the kind of books, but the variation of genre, age group, and content in general. It was exciting flitting from one book to the next, almost resetting my brain for the next world to immerse myself in. I got emotional with Drops of Cerulean and The Color Purple, rekindled my love of science fiction with Illuminae, and learned that I might have a fondness for poetry with Sparks of Phoenix.
Favorite Book of the Month: Illuminae -heart eyes-