My birthday month has come and past. Have I caught up on my reading goal? No. How is the writing going? It’s going. The highlight of this month was absolutely attending ALA AC 2022 in Washington D.C. with one of my best friends, Elliott, as part of the Zine Pavilion. Many zines were peddled, authors met, and despite the masking, things felt normal. I also accomplished holding a plank for a minute straight! It’s been a good time.
Read an Advanced Bound Manuscript obtained from ALA AC 2022 Content warning: racism, colorism, transphobia, queerphobia, 1920’s sexism, vomiting, PTSD
I will continue to read every and any retelling of The Great Gatsby. With McLemore being one of my auto-buy authors, this seems like a match in heaven. In this spin, Nick and Daisy are Latinx cousins, with Daisy abandoning her background to pass as white among the East Coast elite. Nick and Gatsby are both trans, giving them something else in common aside from a history with Daisy.
While the plot matches its source material approximately beat by beat, the character development and interpersonal relationships in the context of societal expectations makes this retelling shine bright like a chandelier at one of Gatsby’s parties.
I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.
I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.
March was my first full month of dayjob. I also took a small break from writing after a major breakthrough in the revision. Unfortunately, that means rewriting the entire thing. In spite of that, I did get a lot of reading done. I even read my first physical copy of the year.
To be fair, I am finding a lot of solace in manga right now, and I can’t quite articulate why. When I figured it out, I will definitely let you know. I have also gotten majorly into buying earrings from indigenous creators. More details about this can be found on my Instagram.
The interview I did this month with C.L. Clark to celebrate their debut, The Unbroken, is one of my favorite interviews yet. I also posted a personal-feeling advice piece on beta reading and giving feedback in general (Writing is Hard Part 8).
Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism Contemporary Year Release: 2021 Source: Physical copy
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Content warnings: Graphic depiction and discussion of sexual assault, slurs, PTSD
The book opens with Ciela, having just been assaulted, bringing a boy, who had also been assaulted at the same party, to the hospital, and she leaves them to the nurse’s care without ever finding out his name. Summer ends, and he is the new transfer student, whose name is Lock. What unfolds is a heavy, heavy book about healing, survival, and navigating the truth of what happened that night, while magic unfolds and folds apart around them. Trees vanish and mirrors take the place of the natural world.
The imagery in this book is absolutely the beautiful, the writing, atmospheric and evocative. But what really carries the story is the tenderness between Lock and Ciela as they grow closer, deal with the students who assaulted them, and learn the causes behind the magic unraveling and reforming.
It reminded me a lot of Liz Lawson’s The Lucky Ones in that the path to survival and healing isn’t neat, isn’t linear, and yet, the book ends on an uncertain, but hopeful note.