Where did April go? This month seems to have blown by really fast, and I can’t even articulate exactly why. I didn’t do any traveling, taxes were an exciting, I turned around a short story in what-feels-like a short amount of time, and got a lot of work done on the revision. I’ve also gotten back to tri-weekly workouts which has been really good for my energy levels. A productive month, even if the productivity wasn’t exactly linear.
I did two blog interviews, which you can find here:
March is another month I largely took off because of Futurescapes and traveling to a work convention. In that time, I played a ton of Elden Ring and mostly did a hard reset of my brain. My writing brain has somewhat defrosted and after setting some boundaries on the work I’ll be doing moving forward, I’m hoping my reading brain will defrost a bit as well.
No author interviews this month but there will be plenty in the next few months.
February is a month where I largely took off from writing my own fiction in preparation for Futurescapes this weekend. Like, I dabbled a bit, mostly played video games. Still did some reading. I finally can go back to listening to audiobooks, which is great for my brain buzz.
Here is a round up of my February reads. I got to interview two fabulous authors to kick off the month:
Alfa Ndiaye is a Senegalese man and a soldier with the French army during World War I. His more-than-brother, Medemba Diop, begs for death, but Alfa can’t do it. This haunts. What follows is an exploration of trauma and violence and a twist that made me press the book against my face and yell.
This book is hypnotic and another adventure in “the less you know going in, the better.” Like a lot of books that are considered literary fiction, not a lot happens. The event of Alfa failing to mercy kill Mademba takes place both on- and off-screen. There’s no plot, there’s just a lot of processing. There’s also an overt sexual overtone to the seduction of war and the emergent forced proximity that’s appropriately uncomfortable.
It’s brutal and unflinching in places, so if up-close descriptions of violence and dehumanization of enemies and allies isn’t your thing, look elsewhere. War is as much a character as the trauma and the literal players in this story. It’s such a masterful work of prose and translation. This is definitely one of those that I’ll be revisiting because there is so much to chew on.
Happy New Year from me and my very strange perception of time. January felt very long, and it’s only barely almost over. What also doesn’t help is that my goals for the year are still quite nebulous aside from the reading goals and fitness goals. Which is fine, really. Time has been strange since March 2020, and I’m sorry to remind you how far away that date is.
Anyway, here is what I read this fine January! There has also been one blog interview:
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction Year Release: 2021 Source: Library Audiobook
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: racism, racial slurs,. freezing to death, drowning
The story of the Titanic fascinated me as a child. The luxury, the hubris, and specific ironic tragedy captivated me. But now as I’m older, I gravitate towards the individual stories of passengers. When I saw that a young adult novel about fictional characters had been coming out, I was thrilled.
Valora Luck gets a ticket on the Titanic where her twin brother Jamie who’s on his way to America in search of work. Because of policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act in the U.S., Valora has to sneak her way on board and gain passage into America using acrobatics and cleverness to win over an associate of Ringling Brothers.
Immersive in a way that made me periodically remind myself that there was a major maritime disaster on the way, this is a must-read for those who additional details and contexts about the people who found themselves on that doomed voyage.
Read an ARC from the publisher Content warning: homophobia, racism, abortion, domestic violence, car accidents, alcoholism
In this queer reimagining of The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker is a queer, Vietnamese adoptee and socialite with all the beautiful sharp edges of stained glass. It’s deeply sensual and takes full advantage of almost a century of historical contextualizing. There’s glitz, glamour, and paper craft magic that fully immerses the reader in its time period and aesthetic.
I’m not saying this book is perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. The Chosen and the Beautiful perfectly captures the horniness of a summer fling with all the yearning horror of watching your best friend make increasingly ill-advised decisions when it comes to the men in her life.
Listened to the audiobook Content warning: child abuse, cartel violence, discrimination, hate crimes, alcoholism, physical violence, vehicular manslaughter
Fulgencio Ramirez is a renowned pharmacist in the border town of La Frontera. He scans the newspaper, waiting for news of a death. When it comes, we’re launched into the epic tale of his and Carolina Mendelssohn star-crossed romance, starting in the 50’s and onward. There’s tragedy, heartbreak, the dead not being truly gone, serenades with mariachi bands, roses blooming in winter, and the pursuit of the American dream. This book was a delight through all the twists and turns.
Bittersweet, deeply romantic, the dead are never truly gone in this work of magical realism. In fact, death might just be the beginning.
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction Year Release: 2020 Source: Library Audiobook
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: murder, revenge, Irish-English tensions of the nineteenth century, child abuse
One of the reasons that I am so drawn to Ian McGuire’s work is that the writer absolutely does not flinch away from the nasty parts of historical accuracy that permeate both the time period and his characters’ backstories.
In this latest work, we go between Manchester, England and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as generational trauma and crime in the name of a greater cause chase our two main characters, Stephen Doyle and James O’Connor, respectively.