Author to Author with Caitlin Starling (#YellowJessamine)

Happy release day to Yellow Jessamine from Neon Hemlock Press. This novella is a gothic tale of murder, poison, and sapphic pining, perfect for the fall season. In this interview, author Caitlin Starling talks about research, inspiration, and her favorite poisons.

Buy links: Physical copy | ebook

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August 2020 Reading Recap

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Summer is coming to an end, I guess. The autumn equinox doesn’t hit until September 22nd, but we can already get pumpkin spice lattes, so I’m saying summer is over. A few more books read this month. No interviews, but I have so much excitement coming in September. Continue reading

ARC Review: YELLOW JESSAMINE by Caitlin Starling (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy Novella
Year Release: September 2020
Source: eARC from Neon Hemlock Press
Buy links: Physical copy | ebook

Content warnings: Poisoning, ideation, vomitingYellow Jessamine starts as a boat belonging to Evelyn Perdanu’s shipping company arrives home several people get sick with a mysterious illness. She’s already developed a bit of a reputation with her garden and tragic past, but it’s a race against transmission as the afflicted have one obsession: Evelyn.

Paranoid is one word to describe Evelyn. The way the fears, both self-inflicted and external, permeate the page creates its own kind of atmosphere. It adds to the gothic qualities of the novel, with the mourning veils, sprawling mansion, haunted histories, and the burden of an empire. There is also a sense of cycles that stretches from beginning to end that’s very well executed, but to say anything more than that, would be spoilers.

I really enjoyed Evelyn’s characterization beyond the paranoia. She has some clear regrets and an agenda that isn’t just her own survival. In addition, her expertise on poisons and medicines (and the balance between the two) fits and flows throughout the narrative and works double-duty as a means to set the mood. Plus, the love between Evelyn and Violetta is the kind of queer pining that fits the mood of these kinds of deadly, melancholic works.

An excellent entry into the gothic literature canon, with some queer pining throughout.

June 2020 Reading Recap

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June was my birthday! I wound up reading a whole bunch of ARCs, a few new favorites, and even interviewed K.A. Doore to celebrate the release of the Chronicles of Ghadid finale, The Unconquered City.

In addition the blog, you will now be able to find my reviews on The StoryGraph, in addition to Goodreads. My handle is JoReadsBooks

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Review: WALK AMONG US by Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, and Caitlin Starling (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror Novellas
Year Release: 2020
Source: Libro.fm

Content warning for suicide ideation, blood consumption, gore, violence, manipulation

Genevieve Gornichec’s “A Sheep Among Wolves” performed by Erika Ishii
A college student looks for companionship and finds it in the unlikeliest of places. I really appreciate how Gornichec approached the recruitment strategy, and laid out a solid framework for that final reveal. The mental health aspect of it was also relatable, plus the general loneliness that comes with being in college. Very atmospheric.

Cassandra Khaw’s “Fine Print” performed by Neil Kaplan
Of the three, I think this one might have been the grossest. Khaw takes the approach of food insensitivities and the paperwork that goes into  becoming a vampire. It also tackles individual interpretations of privilege that are both incisive and has you rooting for the antagonists in the best way. Sometimes the vampires are the good guys.

Caitlin Starling’s “Land of Milk and Honey” performed by Xe Sands
The setpiece of a verfiable blood farm was exquisite in this work. Leigh just wants to have an ethical source of vampire food, and nearly compromises the Masquerade in the process. If you’re looking for some sapphic pining, this novellas also has plenty of that to go around. The women are complex, and the attention to detail regarding animal husbandry is particularly good.

A must-listen for people needing more vampire stories in their life.

 

June 2020 TBR

I read most of May’s TBR. Check out this month’s reading list, trying to crunch through my ARCs and things that are in progress according to Goodreads. Things with a * are from last month’s TBR.

Hard Copies

  • Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus*
  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes
  • The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco*
  • Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (ARC)*

Kindle

  • The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (ARC)*
  • Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1) by R.J. Theodore*
    • In progress
  • The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer (ARC)*
  • Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ARC)*
  • Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark (ARC)
  • Seasons of the Storm by Elle Cosimano (ARC)
  • Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin*
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (ARC)

Audiobooks

  • Highfire by Eoin Colfer*
  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons #2) by Jenn Lyons
  • Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall*
  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
  • Walk Among Us by Genevieve Gornichec, Cassandra Khaw, Caitlin Starling
  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru

In terms of other reads, I have a novel and a short story to beta read. My own work will continue marinating in the back of my head as I prepare for the rewrite.

My 2019 in Reading

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I read 118 books this year, mostly thanks to an aggressive ARC schedule and audiobooks. The list here are 19 books which I read this year that I loved, but weren’t necessarily published in 2019.

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Reading Recap: April 2019

Apr2019RRApril was a quieter month. Though, in the middle, I did visit New York City to get some day job work done and took most of a needed break from writing. And because of a weird funk, it took me a while to read non-audiobooks. With May’s aggressive travel, maybe time for reading physical copies will be easier to come by. Continue reading