All posts by jaleenajo

End of the Year Book Tag/December TBR!

As 2020 winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about the books I want to prioritize reading before the end of the year. Instead of a straightforward December TBR, I thought it would be more fun to combine it with the End of the Year book tag, which was created by Ariel Bissett.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?/Do you have an autumnal book to help transition into the end of the year?

Melmoth

I’m currently about 60 pages into Melmoth by Sarah Perry, which has sort of fallish vibes and which I’ve put on pause for awhile since although I really like it I haven’t been quite in the right mood. But I’m going to make myself finish by the end of the year, since it’s on my Top 10 TBR for 2020 list.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Ruinsong

There are definitely fewer new book releases toward the end of the year, but I’m really intrigued by Ruinsong by Julia Ember, described as a “dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy,” which actually comes out tomorrow.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

Written in the StarsBridgerton: The Duke and I

There are two romance books I really want to finish before the end of the year; I was lucky enough to have been sent copies of both from the publisher. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur is a contemporary F/F romance set during the holidays, so I think it will make a great December read, and The Duke and I by Julia Quinn is a historical romance adapted into a Netflix series that comes out on December 25th, so I really want to have finished the book before I watch the show.

A Tale for the Time Being

I’m also trying to get to another book from my top 10 2020 TBR list, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which has been sitting on my TBR shelf for way too long.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

Radiance

Yes! I think that Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente is a definite contender for favorite read of 2020, considering that her novel Deathless was sort of tied for my favorite read of 2019. Last year, several of my favorite books of the year were ones I read in December, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2021?

Yes! I started working on ideas for my top 10 2021 TBR awhile ago, because it’s a list that I always enjoy making. I’m looking to choose 10 books that are a variety of genres and encompass 2020 releases as well as some backlist titles, but of course everything depends on what I read over the next few weeks as 2020 winds down. I’ve also been putting together lists of highly anticipated 2021 new releases; one of those posts should be up within the next few weeks.

October Reading Wrap-Up

I did have several reads that I really enjoyed in October, but I also had a few that were really disappointing. In terms of quantity, it was a really excellent reading month; I tend to get excited about diving into fall-ish books this time of year and it definitely helps with my reading productivity. I also participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon again, which was great, and in non-reading updates, I spent a lot of this month doing textbanking for the Biden campaign.

Total books read: 10

ARCs: 1

Audiobooks: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Spoiler Alert by Olivia DadeMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-GarciaRage by Bob WoodwardThe Regrets by Amy BonnaffonsGrown by Tiffany D. JacksonYou Had Me at Hola by Alexis DariaLittle Eyes by Samanta SchweblinFangs by Sarah AndersenLandscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. AndersonThe Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (4 stars) – In the awfulness that was the first week of October, Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade managed to provide an extremely fun and relatable escape with this contemporary romance that’s well-written, authentic, and delightful. You can see my full review here; I received a free copy of Spoiler Alert from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rage by Bob Woodward (4 stars) – this is the second of Woodward’s Trump biographies I’ve read (his previous book Fear chronicled Trump’s first year in the White House) and I continue to be impressed by his meticulous reporting and ability to combine accounts from various sources within the administration into a horrifying and fascinating account of a White House in constant turmoil. Rage is a ridiculously relevant book to be reading at this exact moment in time; its account extends to the summer of 2020, which feels impossibly current. It’s a must-read if you’re interested in politics and current events and are looking for a deeper understanding of the incompetence and danger of the Trump administration.

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson (4 stars) – A great example of one of my favorite kinds of books: books that are very short and very weird. Aliens have arrived on Earth, and instead of attacking outright, they offer what at first seems like salvation: advanced technology, in particular the ability to heal any disease. But their technology soon decimates the global economy and its consequences destroy the environment in an apt metaphor for the effects of colonization. Our protagonist is a teenage boy trying to help his family survive in this new world and also finding escapism in his art, but he finds that the only way he can make money is by feeding into the 1950s fantasy view the aliens have of humans. It’s a quick read, but it does a lot in a short time, with some excellent sarcastic humor and an eerie look at a different kind of alien invasion than we’re used to seeing.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (4 stars) -This was the second great contemporary romance I read in October! Like Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade, You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria features thirty-something protagonists focused on career goals, which is always something I’m on board for. Jasmine and Ashton fall for each other while playing romantic leads in a new show for a Netflix-esque streaming service, and the book features great writing, interesting friendship/family dynamics, and a really cute relationship. Would definitely recommend to anyone looking to pick up a new contemporary romance.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (3.5 stars) – This was an excellent October read. Set in 1950s Mexico, we’re following college student and socialite Noemi, whose family sends her to a remote estate in the mountains to check on her cousin Catalina, whose most recent letter hints at disturbing happenings with her English husband, his reclusive family, and their mysterious house. It’s atmospheric and moody, with a protagonist not afraid to take the initiative, and although I didn’t necessarily love the main plot twist, I did overall really enjoy the reading experience.

The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons (3.25 stars) – The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons has, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing premises, and one of the most interesting covers, of 2020, but unfortunately its execution didn’t quite work for me. I mischaracterized it somewhat when I referred to it as a book where a woman falls in love with a ghost–it sort of is, but it’s more accurate to say that it’s the story of a young man caught between this life and this afterlife on a technicality of the rules of death, who meets and falls in love with a woman while he’s living a shadow of what his former life was.

I struggled to find cohesion in this book, not just because of its shifting perspectives, but because it sets itself up to be one thing (an exploration of this specific concept of what happens when you die, and then what happens when that doesn’t go according to plan) and then becomes something else (a somewhat meta and at times clicheed doomed love story with coming-of-age elements) without fully exploring the former. I love fabulism and I’m always attracted to weird premises, but I think that either the weirdness or the love story (or both!) could have been dialed up a few notches in this one. Although interesting in concept and very readable, I wished that it had either been distilled down more or expanded into a broader scope to add more interest.

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin (3 stars) – Unfortunately, Little Eyes ended up being one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me. I absolutely loved Schweblin’s first novel Fever Dream, which I thought was incredibly strange, haunting, concise, and impactful, and so I thought I would love her second novel as well. I didn’t rate it lower because I do think the writing was strong, but I just really did not enjoy the experience of reading it, as the book seemed to lean much more on sadness than it did strangeness or uniqueness. I think my expectations were just not aligned with what this book actually was; I went in expecting horror and weird fiction and instead got unrelenting depictions of loneliness and isolation in a tech-focused world.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (3 stars) – a mystery/thriller that captivated me at first due to its true crime podcast premise, but lost me in the second half with a plot that wasn’t as interesting as it had seemed it would be and excessive graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (3 stars) – A timely, topical YA contemporary that deals with important subjects. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love the writing style and plot structure of this one, but it has a strong message.

Fangs by Sarah Andersen (3 stars) – this graphic novel about a vampire and a werewolf falling in love was definitely cute, but it was also extremely short and didn’t feel like a complete story.

November TBR/NaNoWriMo Game Plan/Thoughts on Reading on the Eve of the Election

I really have no idea what November is going to look like, book friends. It’s the eve of the U.S. presidential election, and it’s hard to plan ahead when there’s so much uncertainty. I’ve been spending the last few weeks volunteering for the Biden campaign, and I really hope that the hard work of so many Americans is about to pay off, but it’s a very scary time here. I actually didn’t read at all over the last week for this reason, but I’m trying to get back on track with both reading and writing for November (or at least as much as I can considering everything going on).

In an ideal universe, I was planning on doing another round of NaNoWriMo this month to hopefully finish the first draft of a fantasy novel I’ve been working on for quite awhile. I set a more modest goal (25,000 words instead of 50,000) and am planning on actually starting NaNo after the election. I’d consider any writing productivity a win at this point, to be honest.

Normally, I find TBR planning helpful during NaNoWriMo, as it helps me avoid spending time and energy choosing my next read when I’m devoting a lot more time than usual to writing. I tend to gravitate towards books by previously loved authors during this month, since I also don’t want to waste my time with disappointing reads. This month, I’m leaving things a little more open-ended, and I’m currently reading several books already that may take me a decent part of the month to complete.

Currently reading:

The House in the Cerulean SeaPiranesiWatch Over Me

Going into November, my current reads are The House in the Cerulean Sea (fantasy), Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (fantasy, by the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell), and Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (YA contemporary, audiobook).

Other November possibilities:

In the Dream House: A MemoirThe Austen Playbook (London Celebrities, #4)

I’d really like to get to another book from my Top 10 2020 TBR list, in this case Carmen Maria Machado’s haunting memoir In the Dream House. And I sort of barely started The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker (contemporary romance) last month via ebook, then ordered the physical book after I had to return the ebook to my library.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon and Closing Survey

That’s a wrap on another round of Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon!

Closing Survey

  1. How would you assess your reading overall?

I definitely didn’t get as much reading done during this round of Dewey’s as in previous rounds, but I hadn’t expected to, so that was totally fine with me. I’m happy with the fact that I started two books that I’m really liking (The House in the Cerulean Sea and Landscape with Invisible Hand) and made a bunch of progress with my audiobook as well.

Here’s what I read in total during the readathon:

FangsThe Night SwimThe House in the Cerulean SeaLandscape with Invisible Hand

2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?

I did! I read mainly during the morning and evening, and during the afternoon I did textbanking for the Biden campaign and worked out.

3. What was your favorite snack?

I had avocado toast for brunch; at first I really didn’t understand the hype about avocado toast, but then I started making it on weekend mornings and now I finally get it.

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Updates and Mid-Event Survey

 

We’re halfway through Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and it’s time for a check-in.

Mid-Event survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently in the middle of 3 books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune, Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson, and The Night Swim by Megan Goldin.

2. How many books have you read so far?

So far, I’ve started and finished Fangs by Sarah Andersen (graphic novel). I’ve also listened to 3 hours of The Night Swim on audiobook, read 40 pages of The House in the Cerulean Sea, and read 60 pages of Landscape With Invisible Hand.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I want to make more progress on all three of my current reads if I can.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I spent a lot of the day textbanking for Joe Biden, and I also took a break to work out. Definitely not my most high-volume readathon in terms of books/pages read, but I’m still happy about my overall productivity.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

It’s going by so fast!

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon TBR and Opening Survey; Thoughts on Reading During Times of Crisis

It’s October, which means that in addition to spooky Halloween vibes and pumpkin spice vibes, it’s also time for another round of Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, my favorite readathon of the year.

My mood is a little bit different going into this round of Dewey’s. The U. S. presidential election is less than 2 weeks away, and Covid-19 numbers just hit their highest peak in our country. Reading can often be a great distraction in dark times, but right now I’m finding it impossible to fully separate myself from everything going on. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As readers, we can simultaneously immerse ourselves in the world of books while not ignoring the social and political context our reading is taking place in, and we can use that context to drive our motivation, both reading and otherwise, to do what we can to help. I think that reading is an amazing form of escape during stressful times, and I hope that a lot of us readathon participants are able to use it that way, but it’s okay also to struggle to read or enjoy other hobbies in times of crisis. It’s okay to acknowledge that nothing is normal right now, and it’s okay to have a hard time with that.

I understand that many of us want to use this readathon as a chance to relax and recalibrate at a time when we’ve all been struggling, and I don’t want to take away from that. I hope that all of the readers out there are taking care of themselves, and I hope that this readathon is a way for us to connect and reset during a horrific year. I also hope that you all vote, whether it’s early or in person or by mail, because the current administration stands against everything that we as readers stand for–science, education, equality, and caring for one another.

I don’t expect myself to be nearly as productive with my reading this round as I normally am during Dewey’s; I’m planning on taking breaks throughout the day to continue textbanking for Joe Biden, which is a really easy way to volunteer if you’re looking for a way to get involved before the election. (If you’re interested in donating or volunteering, head over to Joe’s Biden’s website and you’ll find links to everything.)

Opening Survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Buffalo, NY

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The House in the Cerulean SeaFangs

I’m hoping to steer my reading towards happier stories at the moment, so I’m looking to pick up The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune, which I’ve been assured from multiple reviews is a feel-good fantasy, and Fangs by Sarah Andersen, a graphic novel about a vampire and a werewolf who fall in love.

The Night SwimThe Austen Playbook (London Celebrities, #4)

I’m also likely to make some progress on my current audiobook, The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, which is a mystery/thriller focusing on a true-crime podcast host, and current ebook The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker, a contemporary romance set in the theater world of London’s West End.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I’ve been on a bit of a healthy eating kick lately, so I may attempt to make a smoothie bowl during the readathon.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’ve recently started painting as a form of stress relief. I’m terrible at it, but I find it really relaxing to just play with colors while listening to Folklore or Billie Eilish.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

Balancing reading with textbanking for the Biden campaign! Textbanking doesn’t start until this afternoon, so I’ll try to read as much as I can in the morning before the sessions begin later in the day.

Book Review: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Release date: 10/6/20

Genre: contemporary romance

Rating: 4 stars

In the awfulness that was the first week of October, Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade managed to provide an extremely fun and relatable escape. It’s a contemporary romance that’s well-written, authentic, and delightful. We’re following geologist April, a superfan of the book and TV series Gods of the Gates (a Game of Thrones-esque series) who spends her free time immersed in fanfiction, cosplay, and fandom culture as a whole. A Twitter encounter with Marcus, the lead actor on the TV series and a closet superfan/fanfiction author himself, leads them to a real-life date–but it turns out that they’re already close friends online, which Marcus soon realizes but April doesn’t.

First of all, I loved that both protagonists are in their 30s; as a 31-year-old, it’s sometimes hard to relate to contemporary romances featuring 22-year-olds, and I liked that both main characters are career-focused and looking to take themselves to the next level. I also related so much to April’s struggles with reconciling her professional life and her personal life when it comes to fandom. There’s discussion about how some hobbies are more socially acceptable than others, and how it’s become normalized to talk about football with your coworkers but not things like fan conventions; even though Gods of the Gates is an extremely popular show, April worries her coworkers won’t see her as serious or professional if they find out the depth of her interest. (Kind of like how, even though books are an integral part of pop culture, I didn’t talk to my coworkers about going to BookCon; it’s as though there is a perceived threshold of how much interest is socially acceptable to have about a particular topic). There’s a lot to think about there with regard to feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Spoiler Alert is a great mix of relatable life and relationship issues with larger-than-life celebrity and fandom drama, and I think there are so many people who will be able to relate to one or both protagonists. I know that some readers don’t love the romance trope of “one character knows something about the other but won’t say that they know it,” so it may bother some people that Marcus realizes that he and April have been internet friends for years but doesn’t tell her, because he’s worried about his fandom involvement affecting his acting career (especially because his commentary on the show he stars in has not been entirely positive).

Definitely recommend to readers with ties to fandom, and to career-focused thirtysomethings looking to see themselves in a fictional character and enjoy a good romance at the same time.

I received a free copy of Spoiler Alert from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

September Reading Wrap-Up

In September, I managed to finish 6 books, most of which I really enjoyed. They’re also somewhat color-coordinated, which I’m also into, but was weirdly not intentional. Unfortunately, my 5-star drought has not yet ended, despite picking up several books this month that I thought had 5-star potential.

Reviews:

Emerald Blaze by Ilona AndrewsChosen Ones by Veronica RothSay Yes to the Marquess by Tessa DareWhen No One is Watching by Alyssa ColeThe Wicker King by K. AncrumNormal People by Sally Rooney

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews (4.25 stars) – I’ve been looking forward to Emerald Blaze since pretty much the minute I finished Sapphire Flames, the first book in Catalina’s trilogy in Andrews’s Hidden Legacy series, and it was great to finally be able to return to this world of dueling magical families in Houston. Catalina and love interest Alessandro have both grown and matured a lot since the previous book, and are able to deal with a new threat together despite lingering resentment. I continue to love Ilona Andrews’s fantastic world building, lovable side characters, and great relationship development, but I enjoyed this one just slightly less than its predecessor.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (4 stars) – I’ve been struggling with how to review this book, because on the one hand I fell completely in love with its premise, main character, and first section, but on the other I felt that it stumbled somewhat with aspects of one plot twist and its ending. You can check out my full review here.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (4 stars) – I love books with unconventional formats; if I’m ever on the fence about picking something up, hearing that it utilizes drawings or documents or notes in its narrative will always tip me over the edge. That and several positive reviews were what influenced me to pick up The Wicker King by K. Ancrum, which is about best friends dealing with the fact that one of them is seeing things that can’t be real–another world overlaid over their own, to be specific. In addition to text interspersed with illustrations of the other world, mix CDs highlighting characters’ personalities, and police reports, the book also colors its pages differently as its two main characters become more and more immersed in the alternate reality. I loved how thoughtfully this book was constructed, and also loved its main characters and their intense relationship; I’ll definitely be picking up more from this author in the future.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole (3.75 stars) – I’ve read a bunch of Alyssa Cole’s contemporary and historical romances, so of course I jumped at a chance to read a thriller from her, particularly in the fall, which for me is mystery/thriller season. When No One is Watching is set in a close-knit Brooklyn neighborhood threatened by gentrification and follows our protagonist Sydney, who’s reeling from her divorce and subsequent move back to Brooklyn from Seattle, as well as her mother’s illness. Frustrated by the whitewashing of her neighborhood’s history on a walking tour of the area, Sydney gets the idea to develop her own tour that focuses on the area’s Black community, and dives into research with the help of Theo, a new neighbor Sydney isn’t exactly thrilled to have an as assistant. But strange and sinister things are happening in the neighborhood, and Sydney and Theo have to team up to figure out exactly what’s going on and how to protect their community from encroaching threats.

Alyssa Cole creates an extremely strong sense of place and community that grounds When No One is Watching and immediately makes you empathize with its characters and their plight. The side characters in Sydney’s neighborhood were possibly my favorite part of the book; I wanted to see more of all of them, and I also enjoyed the addition of neighborhood online forum posts as a way to track the growing tension between its longtime residents and interlopers. It’s a fantastic depiction of different forms of racism, both overt and insidious, that can affect peoples’ day-to-day lives, and I was extremely invested in the story and, at a certain point, unable to stop reading so that I could finally find out what exactly was going on. It’s a bit of a slow build, but the action-packed ending definitely compensates for the overall slower pace, and I thought that the book’s message was clear and extremely relevant. What I liked least was probably the story’s dual perspective; I liked protagonist Sydney’s chapters, but I could have done without Theo as a POV character, as I didn’t find him as compelling. I definitely recommend this one, especially if you’re looking for a mystery/thriller that’s relevant for 2020.

I received an ARC of When No One is Watching from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare (3.25 stars) – I’ve been reading a lot of Tessa Dare in 2020 (at the moment, she’s tied with Alyssa Cole for my most-read author of the year); her books are fun to read but also so well-crafted, with clever jokes and great chemistry. Even though I liked this one less than I have the others I’ve read of hers, it was still an extremely fun read, particularly the premise: tired of the eight years she’s spent waiting for her fiance to return from the Continent, Clio attempts to get his black sheep brother Rafe to sign a contract releasing her from the betrothal. Unbeknownst to Clio, Rafe has been long harboring feelings for her, but he’s also determined that she’ll still marry his brother, and this begins a battle of wills as Rafe tries to get her excited about the wedding while Clio tries to convince him that she’ll be better off alone and free to run her own castle and business.

Normal People by Sally Rooney (2 stars) – I picked up this book expecting to love it, and unfortunately I really, really didn’t. Normal People was one of the books on my Top 10 TBR for 2020 (I’m trying to finish all of them before the end of the year and am a bit behind schedule), and I’ve been hearing great things about it for so long, as well as about its Hulu adaptation. But this book, for me, did not at all live up to the hype. I was really frustrated with the aspiring pretentiousness of the tone, which never felt natural or authentic, and by its odd structure that repeatedly used the same technique of jumping forward in time several months but then flashing back to what had happened in those prior months, thus completely negating the need for a time jump in the first place. I felt that Marianne’s story and agency were jettisoned in favor of Connell’s in a way that felt regressive and frankly sexist, particularly when it came to the book’s ending, and I thought that making Connell’s character a writer felt very overdone, particularly the passages where he’s trying to make these profound statements about writing and literary readings but just never says anything new or fresh. I don’t actually write negative reviews very often, both because I’m fairly good at predicting what books I’ll like and picking from those, and also because if I’m not enjoying a book I’m very likely to DNF it unless it’s a review copy, but I just had to with this one. The last thing I want to do is take away from anyone’s enjoyment of Normal People; I know that a lot of people really love it, and I wish that I had too. But I really don’t recommend this one if you haven’t tried it yet–there are just so many books out there that do similar things in a better way.

Book Review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve been struggling with how to review this book, because on the one hand I fell completely in love with its premise, main character, and first section, but on the other I felt that it stumbled somewhat with aspects of one plot twist and its ending. It definitely hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves, but I also can’t say that it was unreservedly perfect due to its aforementioned issues (I’d try to go into them more, but we’d be entering spoiler territory). I sometimes get frustrated by books that I feel could have been amazing if handled differently, maybe even more so than books I feel indifferent about, just because I want to love them so much but find myself not being able to. (I’d say that for comparison I also felt this way about Middlegame by Seanan McGuire and Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas: both 4-star reads that I was really hoping to be 5-star reads, and that therefore felt unsatisfying even though I loved so much of them.) It’s possible, also, that I am just picky and weird.

Anyways, this book is about five twenty-somethings who, ten years ago, were the Chosen Ones who saved our world from the mysterious Dark One, and who are now dealing with PTSD and trying to adapt to somewhat normal lives in Chicago, although they’re also treated as celebrities and frequently harangued in public and sought after for various events. Sloane, our Jessica Jones-esque protagonist (that is how I pictured her for the duration of the novel), is having a particularly hard time and, in an effort to help herself cope with her trauma, requests the release of documents surrounding the project that recruited and trained the teens, based on a prophecy, to find magical objects and use them to defeat the Dark One, whose workings caused mass deaths in places he caused a sort of people-melting magic tornado called Drains. In addition to the underlying tensions between the Chosen Ones and their individual struggles, we also start to suspect that evil may not be as gone from the world as we’d thought.

I’ll say it again–I LOVED this premise. I love books that delve into tropes and genre conventions only to subvert them, and I felt like this book was doing for superhero narratives what The Magicians did for portal fantasy. Sloane is a prickly, haunted, self-sufficient main character, and I loved her dynamics with golden boy Matt, her long-term boyfriend, and Albie, the Chosen One she’s bonded with the most based on a shared trauma the others weren’t present for. The inclusion of government documents and articles were a great way to slowly reveal information, and for the first part of the book I was completely on board with everything the book was doing.

And then, there’s a big twist, which I will say nothing about, and which I was at first cautiously optimistic about and then gradually liked less and less, as I felt it took away from the fascinating narrative we’d been building up until that point. I wish the book had taken a different trajectory, and although overall I did have a great experience reading it, I think it could have been stronger if it had.

October TBR/Reading Seasonally

It’s officially fall now, which tends to be my favorite season (yes, I get really basic during the fall, I won’t lie to you guys). To a certain degree, I like to read seasonally, which to me means that once fall hits I’m in the mood for paranormal, mystery, dark fantasy, weird fiction, and horror. Several of these genres are ones I rarely read from during the rest of the year, so I usually go into the fall with several books in mind that I’ve been saving for crisp nights with a mug of hot spiced cider.

This month, I’m thinking of prioritizing these 4 books:

Mexican GothicThe RegretsMelmothLittle Eyes

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a historical mystery set in 1950s Mexico; The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons, which features a ghost stuck between this world and the next and the woman who falls in love with him; Melmoth by Sarah Perry, historical fiction focusing on a dark European legend (also on my top 10 TBR for 2020/5 star predictions list I made at the beginning of the year); and Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, a weird fiction/horror novel about mysterious stuffed animals.

Depending on time constraints and my reading mood, I may also decide to delve into these ones also (particularly, I’m thinking, for the next round of Dewey’s 24-hour readathon on October 24th):

The Only Good IndiansThe Damned (The Beautiful, #2)Fangs

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, a horror novel that I’m waiting to arrive in the mail; The Damned by Renee Ahdieh, the sequel to YA historical fantasy The Beautiful; and Fangs by Sarah Andersen, a graphic novel about a vampire and a werewolf who fall in love.

 

What’s on your TBR for October? Any of these that catch your eye? Let me know in the comments!